Thursday
June 15
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXV
Issue 15
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it's really becoming hard to make an error in major league baseball


Breaking news: The Orioles won a baseball game last night!

Yes, indeed, the O's are back among the living after a 10-6 victory over the White Sox on Wednesday night. Welington Castillo was the big hero for the Birds, as he belted his first career grand slam off of ex-Oriole Miguel Gonzalez in the fifth inning to take the O's from a 5-4 deficit to an 8-5 lead.

The Orioles would have been in last place this morning if not for last night's win. So, they have that going for them, which is nice.

But last night's game wasn't memorable because the Orioles won. It was memorable because the official scorekeeper in Chicago must have been a German Shepherd. Or a parrot. Perhaps someone brought their 9-week old kitten to the game and the White Sox decided to allow the furry little creature to serve as the game's scorekeeper.

A person -- a human being, living, breathing -- couldn't have possibly been in the press box last night serving as the scorekeeper. As Charley Eckman used to say: "Ain't no way".

If you should have "made the play" but didn't, that's an error.

I'll admit this is a character flaw of mine. But there's almost nothing in sports that drives me more batty than a baseball scorekeeper who refuses to give major league players an error.

It even got on Jim Palmer's nerves last night. And the fact that "Cakes" spoke out about it in the 4th inning warmed my heart.

The initial faux pas of the night came in the very first inning when Jonathan Schoop misplayed a ground ball to second base that allowed a Chicago runner to go from 1st to 3rd. Schoop is a capable, reliable major league second baseman. That ball hit to him should have been collected and thrown to first for an out.

Gary Thorne tried to make a claim about the field being wet or the infield dirt having "soft spots", but the reality is, the ball nicked off of Schoop's glove and bounded away from him. If for no other reason than the runner going to second was able to get to third because of Schoop's misplay, that was an error.

But "H" flashed up on the scoreboard because, well, you know, the White Sox hitters deserve some home cooking occasionally.

No...what was deserved there was an error on Schoop.

In the very next inning, Willy Garcia misplayed a ball hit to him in centerfield. Trey Mancini was able to score on the play to cut Chicago's lead to 2-1.

Once again -- "H" flashed on the scoreboard.

Was the ball hit hard? Absolutely. Was it a scorching line drive? You bet. Would a major leaguer make that catch 9 out of 10 times? Most certainly.

Garcia "misplayed" the ball. That, my friends, means he committed an error.

But that German Shepherd in the press box didn't see it that way.

Fast forward to the 4th inning, where the Birds were on the short end of a 5-1 score, but pressing for runs with the bases loaded.

Castillo bounced a slow chopper to White Sox third baseman Todd Frazier, who had two options at that point. He could throw to first to get Castillo or he could try and get Mark Trumbo out at the plate.

The latter option was a risky one. Trumbo's not a speedster, by any means, but he got a good jump from third base and it was going to be a close play at the plate. Frazier threw the ball five feet wide right of the catcher and the O's picked up a run.

Even Palmer chimed in on this one, in his low-key-but-serious manner. "Now, you see, that should be an error on Frazier," the Hall of Famer said. "A big league third baseman has to make the right play there. If he doesn't, it's an error."

Correct-a-mundo, Jimmy. Frazier actually erred twice there. Once, by deciding to go home with the throw and second, with the actual throw itself. I'm not saying he should be charged with two errors -- one would be enough -- but there's no freakin' way he gets by unscathed there. By the way, Castillo didn't get a hit on the play. It was recorded as a "fielder's choice", except no out actually occurred.

Isn't that funny? The ESPN play-by-play for that inning reads like this: "Castillo grounded into fielder's choice to third, Trumbo scored."

How can you "ground into" a fielder's choice if no out occurred? And if no out occurred, how did the hitter get on base? By hit? Or by error? It's like Castillo never actually made it all the way to the plate in that at-bat. Somehow, between the dugout and home plate, he was never "officially" up there.

Give Frazier an error on the play and let's move on.

Wednesday night wasn't the only occasion in this series where the official scorekeeper goofed up. On Monday night, Seth Smith completely misplayed a ball in right field that sizzled past his glove and went all the way to the wall.

Once again..."H" flashed up on the board.

On the radio broadcast, Jim Hunter bemoaned the fact that Smith "might have lost that one in the lights", which is always the first sure-fire excuse the announcing team goes to in an effort to protect the player who goofed up.

Maybe Smith did lose it in the lights. Maybe he should have caught the ball, too. In fact, since he's a major league player earning millions of dollars, let's all agree that he SHOULD have caught the ball but didn't. And, to me, that means he erred. Which, of course, indicates he should receive -- say it with me -- an ERROR.

It's worth noting that two errors WERE handed out on Wednesday, both in the same inning. Schoop was charged with an error after a terrible throw to third base allowed a run to score and Manny Machado was dinged with an error after an errant throw to first base. Those two were justified.

The problem? There were three other errors last night that weren't handed out. And no one knows why.

I'm not sure what the reasoning is behind the reluctance to give major league players an error.

We all know what happens. Depending on the situation, someone is always pissed off when you're forced to flash "E" on the scoreboard. The guy who hit the ball potentially gets robbed of a hit, which affects his batting average. The guy who botched the grounder or the fly ball gets an error, which potentially affects his fielding percentage and pursuit of a gold glove or some other post-season award that no one really cares about anyway.

It drives me nuts when we see a play like Schoop failed to make in the first inning last night get recorded as a hit.

Yes, I understand, some plays are more difficult than others. I get that. But if you say, "He probably should have made that play", the use of the word "probably" is all the evidence you need to hand out an error.

I'm not saying this happens every night in baseball, but it happens a lot, trust me. Watch tonight's game in Chicago. You'll see a play, at some point, that should have been made but wasn't. And you'll see that "H" flash up on the scoreboard because scorekeeper's are apparently afraid to say to a major league player, "I'm sorry, bro, you should have made that play."

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from the desk of
brien jackson

BRIEN JACKSON's work at #DMD promises to provide some of Baltimore's best sports insight and commentary, brought to you by SECU, the official credit-union of Drew's Morning Dish. Brien has done sports media work with ESPN, CBS and NPR. His contributions to #DMD will focus on the Orioles, the Ravens, and national sports stories.


Almost on cue after my column about the Astros last week, former Indianapolis Colts General Manager Bill Polian shared some stark thoughts on the closest thing the NFL has to the Astros' grand experiment: The Cleveland Browns. In fact, Polian even went so far as to use the dreaded "t word".

“The thing that worries me," Polian said on ESPN Radio's Mike & Mike show, "is that the Browns essentially tanked the season last year and no one — except a few of us — said anything about it. And it may well be that this is something that can spread around the league, and I don’t think that’s good for the sport in the long run. Because in the end it robs the customers of the chance to see a competitive team.”

In the most basic sense, Polian's evaluation of the Browns is clearly correct. But still, the accusation of tanking specifically is a very, very heavy one, and it forces the question of what exactly constitutes tanking into the forefront.

Obviously tanking means a team that is deliberately trying to lose. Players/coaches who are shaving points or Rachel Phelps from the movie "Major League" trying to drive down attendance to break a lease are textbook examples of "tanking."

If the Browns did intentionally dump the 2016 season to earn the first pick in the NFL draft, their reward for that was selecting Myles Garrett from Texas A&M.

But what exactly does it mean for a front office to not try to win? As I said in the Astros column; the conundrum for general managers is that a) there's always going to be a next season to play and b) sometimes you have a roster that just can't be helped.

The 2016 Browns are a great example of this issue. When the offseason began, everyone in the world knew that roster was awful, and would lose a lot of games, if they didn't just go 0-16. Adding two or three players was not going to make a meaningful difference to them, and even if they were able to find themselves a franchise quarterback they'd still be at least a year or two away from being a serious playoff contender.

If you're honestly trying to build a competitive team in Cleveland, what is the real value in winning 4 games instead of 1? And what if chasing down those extra 3 wins comes at the cost of, say, winning 9 games instead of 10 and missing the postseason two or three years down the road?

In other words, while perhaps the Browns' front office would have liked to win the AFC North in 2016 and made a deep playoff run, the people tasked with running the team decided to be realists about their situation and acknowledging it would have taken an act of God on top of a miracle to turn that situation into a decent team, let alone a good one, in 2016. And after admitting as such, they committed themselves to stockpiling as many future assets as they could in the hopes of making big improvements in 2017 and beyond.

There's a fine line between shrewd decision making and tanking, and the Browns definitely walked it last year. That said, in some ways that distinction is irrelevant, and all that matters is that you can reasonably ascribe the word "tanking" to a franchise and argue the point. And we've now reached the point where legitimate discussions about tanking for draft picks plagues all three major American sports, with teams in football, baseball, and basketball not bothering to pretend they aren't punting entire seasons in hopes of finding future success sooner rather than later.

There will no doubt be many think pieces and hot takes proffered about the trend in the near future from people who, like Polian, are deeply troubled by the implications of teams worrying more about draft position than wins, and the economic impact it will have in those cities during the lean years when management isn't even pretending they're putting quality teams on the field. I will wager, though, that no one will propose the most obvious solution to the problem: Abolish the drafts.

Here's the thing about drafts as they're presently structured; we think of them as giving the biggest advantage to the teams that lost more games, but that's really only true at the very top of the board. If there's a prospect who looks like a generational star or at least a franchise foundation type of player, then there's a huge advantage to picking near the top. But once you get outside the top 3 or 5 picks, value drops precipitously, and even if you're able to get the best prospect in the draft, you may still be a good ways away from having a competitive roster.

This is less true in baseball, where draftees aren't expected to make the main roster for multiple seasons, or the NBA, where true superstars have a disprortionate impact on team success, as it is in the NFL, but it's still true that it's FAR better for a team to have the number one overall pick than to have a pick in the 6-9 range. And further complicating things in the draft is, well, the requirement to actually pick a player, and only one player.

If there are five guys on the board you view as relative equals, you can't play them against one another or let someone else pick a few off to try to get the best deal. If there's no one you really want to pick in that spot, you can only trade out of it if you can find someone who wants to move up, and otherwise you have no choice but to make a reach on your board.

Now imagine a counterfactual where incoming rookies were free agents and could negotiate and sign with any team they wanted. Instead of having to pick one player at 12, you can make offers to multiple guys you like. Can't find someone to trade with you so you can move down the board? Just go after the guy you'd like to get, plus a couple other mid round talents anyway.

And if you're a team like the 2016 Browns, who need a lot of help to even get to .500? Go wild and take a run at signing 4 or 5 first round talents if you want to. The common rejoinder would be that you can't do this because the best teams will just get all of the best rookies, but it doesn't take much critical thinking to figure out that this is unlikely.

Almost by definition, the best teams have deep depth charts and, in the capped sports, are probably spending more money on current payroll than the worst teams. So the perennial playoff contenders simply aren't likely to be able to compete for the services of incoming rookies who a) probably want a chance to start right away and b) are getting their first chance to (legitimately) cash in on a lifetime of work to make it to the professional ranks.

Put another way; can the Patriots or Steelers really afford to pay Cam Newton or Andrew Luck to be a backup, and are prospects like that really going to sign on to being backups for multiple years even if they did?

Admittedly this is a radical proposal, but I'm assuming a radical problem. Is that the case? I'm not really sure. Personally I don't really have a problem with bad teams punting a season or two while stockpiling draft picks and young players rather than expending resources to be merely bad instead of awful. But I do recognize that some people aren't going to feel the same way and, like Polian, I don't really think it's in the best interests of the sport(s) to have rebuilding teams more or less acknowledging that they don't care how many games they lose for multiple seasons.

But we're already through the looking glass now, and while there's a real possibility that the strategy won't work in the NFL (when players are getting the snot beat out of them because their teammates suck, it's hard to keep them happy and healthy for the long run), the Astros and Cubs have already proven it's more than doable in baseball and everyone has known for a long time that drafting a superstar was essentially a prerequisite to having any chance at winning a title.

The only thing that's changed now is that GM's have openly acknowledged the fact that it's a huge advantage to pick as close to the top as you can, and owners are starting to buy in to the theory and show some patience with "the process."

So if you think that teams playing to get the number one pick is a serious problem, the only solution is to get rid of the drafts altogether.

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thursday sports with David Rosenfeld

DAVID ROSENFELD is a former sports publicist who still keeps his eye on the game. Looking at the game, the news or the players on an in-depth level is what he likes to do. Follow his work here at #DMD every Thursday, brought to you by Glory Days Grill.


how did i get here?


Have you ever sat at your desk at work and wondered how in the world you ended up there?

Maybe it didn’t happen at work.

It could have been in your car, or out on your deck, or at the altar on your wedding day. You might have been happy, or terribly upset, or not had any emotion at all. Your age might have been 22, 42 or 62. But you felt it wash over you, even for just a moment or two.

I’ve asked myself the question more than a few times, in more than a few places, and it’s never been easy to come up with a good answer.

But there’s only one reason I ended up here, writing about sports after 13 years of working in sports full-time. His name was Mark Rosenfeld, and he was my Dad.

My father died May 24, a few weeks before Father’s Day. He had what appeared to be a small stroke 17 days earlier, and was recovering and doing rehab when his body failed him, causing many more strokes that proved to be catastrophic. He spent several days surrounded by family and friends in hospice care at Gilchrist before succumbing at age 74.

My Dad was neither a great athlete nor a man who made his living in sports. He was a Spanish teacher in the Baltimore County Public Schools, with plenty of other side gigs both large and small. Folks from all of those places came to his funeral, and most of them knew what he cared about most besides his family.

The Orioles. The Ravens. The Colts. The Skipjacks and the Clippers, even. The most provincial of fans, he “stretched” only for Maryland basketball and football; the idea that he would stretch for teams with “Washington” in their name was about as likely as Chris Davis never striking out.

Rabbi Chai Posner gave the eulogy at the funeral. The rabbi is from Brooklyn, is a Yankees fan and speaks with a polished but noticeable New York accent. He knew my Dad as an acquaintance, and nothing more. Still, he wore an Orioles tie for the occasion.

We buried my Dad with an Orioles blanket, made for him by my girlfriend after he had surgery a few years ago. His tallit was draped around his neck and over his chest; the blanket was placed just below that.

He was the guy with the transistor radio at his sister’s wedding in 1966 (the Orioles clinched the pennant that day), and he never really changed after that. You get the idea.

So my father was a fan, and that’s part of why I’m here. But he did more than that. It was his behind-the-scenes involvement in youth sports, I think, that really pushed me toward my own career.

Most fathers care about their kids and how many hits they get or points they score in their little league games. My Dad actually cared about the whole league; specifically, the Pikesville Little League and Pikesville Basketball. He did the schedules, assigned the officials and umpires, worked out the kinks, and even fixed a few silly disputes along the way. If he got paid something for it, it wasn’t very much.

He did all of this because he loved it; he loved getting to know all the parents and coaches and all the kids, on every team. He was devoted to it, and people loved him for that.

Some of my earliest memories come from the late 1970s, around the age of 6 or 7, sitting with my brother in the bleachers at Catonsville High School. My father was running the clock for the boys’ basketball game. I’m sure I was too young to know exactly what he was doing.

Fast forward about 13 years, and there I was sitting in the gym at Franklin & Marshall College, one of the managers for the men’s basketball team. At practice, I held the switch for the game clock in one hand and the switch for the shot clock in the other. I was concentrating too hard at the time to think about it, but really…would I have been doing that if it hadn’t been for my Dad?

When I got to college, I thought I wanted to be a lawyer. But I learned that I really liked working behind the scenes in sports, too, and I knew you could actually get paid for it.

And so I did…for two years at Princeton, a short stint at Hamilton College in Upstate New York, six years at Loyola and then back to Princeton for five more. I traveled the country and visited Europe. I met Dick Vitale in the Notre Dame bookstore, of all places. After a press conference, I had an athletic administrator at Duke tell me I’d be great as Coach K’s press guy (no thanks!)

All in the name of sports.

I don’t think there was anyone who was more proud of me than my Dad. I’m sure some of it came from the same place as it does from every parent. I think most of it came from the fact that I was doing something I enjoyed, as opposed to just going to a job, and that maybe he had something to do with it.

He didn’t know or understand everything I did, but it didn’t matter.

I often thought about him — when I was doing the scorebook at a basketball game, on the bus on a cold winter night, or even sitting in the stands at a game at which I wasn’t working. I probably never told him that. I do know that the times I could include him in my job — whether it was getting him tickets, or introducing him to coaches, or just having him by the office— were among my favorite memories from my career.

Don’t get me wrong, though. Thanks to my Dad, being a fan never left me.

Let’s go back to January 27, 2001. I was in, of all places, a hotel room in Buffalo. On the TV in front of me, Maryland was ahead of Duke by 10 points with 53 seconds left. Everybody knows what then happened in College Park, but you’ll be among the first to know what I did in Buffalo. I threw the oversized hotel remote at the television, breaking it in several pieces.

My roommate on the trip, Joe Logan, wasn’t in the room at the time. I had barely calmed down by the time he returned, and I remember exactly what he said after I’d explained what happened, both in the game and in the room. He told me that he wished he had that kind of passion about something.

I’ve thought about that moment many times since then: the minor tantrum, the agony, the fervor. The next day, I walked into a gym for a Loyola women’s basketball game, which I approached with a different kind of enthusiasm. Later that day, I felt the pain of my Dad with the transistor radio, since our return flight to Baltimore came at the exact time that the Ravens were pounding the Giants in Super Bowl XXXV.

I’ve also been thinking about another moment, the last time I talked to my Dad and he could talk back. It was May 17, and I was telling him about the crazy Orioles win the night before in Detroit. There’s no way he could have stayed awake long enough to see all 13 innings, so I gave him the play-by-play. He didn’t really have the energy to hear about it, and it saddened me to think he might not have the energy in the future.

It's now my job to carry on that spirit, his spirit. That's why I'm here, and I'll never forget that.

Thanks, Dad.

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who is the better "winner" -- tiger woods or tom brady?


We've reached the final four of our "Ultimate Winners" contest and the first semifinal could easily be the final, in fact. We'll run this semifinal battle today and tomorrow here at #DMD to give everyone a chance to vote.

It pits Tiger Woods, the second winningest golfer in PGA Tour history, against Tom Brady, a 5-time Super Bowl champion for the New England Patriots.

79 career wins and 14 major championships highlight the great career of Tiger Woods. Is he a better "winner" than Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady, though?

Both of these athletes are GREAT winners, there's no doubt about that. Woods beat everyone like a drum for the better part of a decade and Brady has stuck a hole in the heart of nearly every defense he's faced over the last decade and a half.

As I have done throughout the last two weeks of the contest, I'm going to keep my pontificating to a minimum so I don't get accused of "swaying" anyone in any particular direction.

I will reveal my full "bracket" late next week when our champion is finally crowned, but for now, I want the contest to be about YOU and who you think is the best.

I again ask that you take a few minutes to read through each competitor's biographies and career stats to make the best vote you can.

You can find Tiger Woods' career information here.

You can find Tom Brady's career information here.

Please take a few minutes today to really look through what each of the men has done and vote for your winner below. And remember, your vote counts. In the opening round of the contest, Roger Federer beat Michael Jordan by ONE vote.

Next Monday and Tuesday, we'll have the other semifinal, as Michael Phelps goes up against Roger Federer.


Wednesday
June 14
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXV
Issue 14
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o's shopping pieces aren't worth much


In all fairness, a discussion like the one we're about to have is probably still three weeks away from being a reality. It's only June 14, after all.

But by the looks of things, this cloud of losing we're seeing from the Orioles -- 6-1 losers in Chicago last night -- has settled in for a while. And with that comes a lot of discussion around town about making some deadline deals and trying to re-stock the farm system in advance of what's likely going to be a below .500 season in 2017.

Back in late March, I predicted the Orioles would go 79-83 this season. At this point, I'm not sure they can even win 79, if we're being honest.

So, while a formal concession speech for the Birds is probably still a month away, the armchair GM's in town can make a bunch of mythical trades and look ahead to 2018 and beyond. That's what we'll do here today at #DMD, although I must warn you, there aren't many realistic pieces to trade away between now and the end of July.

In no particular order, here are a handful of names that might be trade-worthy and a few that aren't.

Orioles right hander Brad Brach would be one of the few pitchers on the current roster who might be of interest to teams at the trade deadline at the end of July.

Wade Miley, believe it or not, might be of interest to a team that needs a left-handed starter. C.C. Sabathia left last night's game with a strained hamstring. If that sort of injury lingers on for him, I could see the Yankees having an interest in Miley, for example. On the whole, Miley's not very good. But he is left-handed, and some team with a playoff chance might be willing to take him at the deadline. Prospect wise, you wouldn't get much for him, but you could get a decent bullpen arm for him, perhaps.

Welington Castillo would be of interest to a lot of teams at the deadline, particularly anyone who has issues at catcher or wants another good bat and a part-time catcher (American League, obviously). Castillo has been one of the O's bright spots this season, although he has made two trips to the disabled list and we're not even 65 games into the season. He might fetch you a slightly better player than Miley would, but a mid-level prospect (at best) is all you'd get for him.

Hyun Soo Kim wouldn't get you much, either, but someone would take his bat at the deadline. He'd be a good addition to a team needing a left-handed hitter. There's not much power there, but he can put the ball in play and get on base.

Brad Brach is definitely worth showcasing, as he could get the O's something decent in return. Brach can either be the 8th inning guy or serve as a closer if necessary, and that type of versatility would make him well worth considering if you're a playoff-bound team with a middle-of-the-road bullpen.

Trey Mancini would also draw some interest, I'm sure, but by and large he's still an unproven commodity in the majors. Yes, it appears like he can hit, but lots of guys have solid rookie seasons and never duplicate that production thereafter. In other words, some teams might take him, but I'm not sure they'd be willing to give up a lot in return.

Seth Smith has trade value, and with Mancini emerging as a potential every day player, Smith becomes expendable since Joey Rickard can patrol right field and Mancini can play in left. Smith, like Kim, would draw interest from teams that need a left-handed bat. You might get a decent-to-good prospect for him, but not much more than that. There will be lots of Seth Smith-types available at the deadline, which diminishes the quality you can get for him in return.

Ubaldo Jimenez probably doesn't have much trade value at this point, but a National League team might look at his interleague numbers and the fact that he had some prior success in Colorado and give the Orioles some towels and Gatorade for him. I can't see anyone actually taking Jimenez, but he's a free agent at the end of the season, so any team who takes him is only "renting" him for two or three months.

Mark Trumbo would probably garner a high-level prospect if you could find the right power-starved team to trade with, but his new deal signed in the recent off-season includes a limited no-trade clause, so the O's would have to encounter the touchy subject of dealing a player who has some power over them.

Manny Machado is obviously the biggest name everyone in town is throwing around, particularly with Zach Britton unavailable (at this point) due to injury. You'd likely get a massive haul in exchange for Machado, who would still have a full season (2018) left to play with his new team.

But trading Machado or Mancini would take a lot of guts. No one in town would care if Miley, Castillo, Kim, Smith or Brach gets shipped out at the deadline. Moving Machado or Mancini would definitely upset the apple cart.

By dealing Manny, the O's would obviously be indicating they're not going to be pursuing him for a long term deal in the winter of 2018. They'd say all the right things, of course ("this doesn't close the door on trying to re-sign Manny when he's a free agent") but the reality is once he's gone, he's gone.

Chris Tillman would be of interest, too, if he weren't having such a horrible year with attached whispers that he might have a shoulder injury.

Who would I trade, you ask?

I'd trade anyone except Adam Jones, Jonathan Schoop, Trey Mancini and Dylan Bundy.

Those four are staying in Baltimore.

Everyone else? Up for grabs.

And yes, that includes Machado. I'd deal Machado because the gamble of waiting it out to see if we can re-sign him isn't worth it. At this point, it's far better to move him on and get 4-5 quality pieces in return.

I wrote back in late April I'd try and move Chris Davis, but, like Trumbo, he has a limited no-trade clause in his contract and no one in the majors is going to pick up his $23 million a year deal. So, the O's would have to eat some of his contract and then there's the messy situation with all of that deferred money (through 2037) that would have to be worked out with his new employer.

The Orioles, I'm afraid, are stuck with Davis and his 225 strikeouts per-season.

There's also the possibility that the Birds could right the ship sometime soon, get back in the playoff hunt, and potentially be "buyers" at the deadline. The only issue there? The O's don't have much of anything on the farm to give away in any deals. If you don't have pieces to trade, you typically can't improve in July.

To me, the most likely to go are Miley, Kim and Brach, with Jimenez and Castillo next in line.

I'm sure there are teams that would take Machado as well, but the Orioles would probably ask for a king's ransom and there might not be many takers once the stakes get high.

The final piece of the puzzle for the Birds -- if they part company with several players at the deadline -- would be selling a fire sale to the fan base. Most folks would probably be OK with it, but the public positioning would be important for the Orioles, as they'd essentially be saying "The final two months of the season don't matter and we might not be all that good next year, either."

Getting the fan base to accept a statement like that is one thing. Getting them to renew their season tickets for next season? That's another story.

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and your u.s. open winner is...


You can't have a season-long sweep of golf's major championships unless you get the first one right.

So, here I am, 1-for-1 in 2017, as I correctly predicted Sergio Garcia would win the Masters back in April. Can I make it 2-for-2?

Today concludes our preview coverage of this year's U.S. Open at Erin Hills. Play starts tomorrow at the monster-course in Wisconsin and the players are already lining up to either applaud the USGA or blast the USGA. Some guys (Rory McIlroy, Jason Day among others) are saying all the right things about the course while others are already mumbling about the fescue and the rock-hard putting surfaces.

As I conclude my personal Top 10 with today's pick at #1, here are those I expect to see on the leaderboard: Kevin Kisner, Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy, Sean O'Hair, Justin Rose, Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Louis Oosthuizen and Martin Kaymer.

And my winner for the 2017 U.S. Open?

Justin Thomas.

The 24-year old has played 15 events in 2016-2017 and has won three of them. He also has seven top 10 finishes and has made 12 cuts in those 15 events he's entered.

But this pick isn't about stats.

It's about a guy who is ready to break out and be one of the sport's best players. He's 11th in driving distance (305 yards per drive), 4th in scoring average and 1st in birdies per-round.

His driving accuracy (55%) is definitely a concern, but the fairways at Erin Hills are the widest we've ever seen for a U.S. Open. That alone will offset the importance of Thomas being pressed to hit the fairway.

When he's on, like he was in Hawaii back in January when he shot a 59, there are few in the game as good as Thomas. He's never won a major, that much is true, and most folks need to squander one at least once before they can win one, but I think Erin Hills sets up well for him.

In the end, it's just another golf tournament to most of the top players in the world. And Justin Thomas is ready to capture his first major this week in Wisconsin.

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phelps moves on to our "ultimate winners" final four


And then there were four.

With Michael Phelps (90%) easily beating Phil Mickelson (10%) yesterday in our final quarterfinal match-up, there are just four athletes left in our "Ultimate Winners" bracket challenge.

It should be a doozy of a Final Four, starting tomorrow here at #DMD.

#1 seed Tiger Woods will oppose #5 seed Tom Brady in the first semifinal battle. It will run on Thursday and Friday of this week, with a "day one" scoring update provided on Friday morning.

In the other semifinal, #3 seed Michael Phelps will take on #15 seed Roger Federer. Federer eliminated a couple of beasts on his way to the semi's, as he edged Michael Jordan by one vote in the first round and then defeated LeBron James in the quarterfinals.

Phelps and Federer will face-off next Monday and Tuesday here at #DMD. The championship will be next Wednesday and Thursday, with the winner revealed on Friday, June 23.

Thank you to everyone who has voted so far!

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Tuesday
June 13
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXV
Issue 13
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12 points to ponder


1. Well, Kevin Durant got his NBA title last night and LeBron James came up short again, losing for the second time in three years to the Warriors, who won Game 5, 129-120 behind a 21-2 run late in the first half. Durant was named the series MVP but James became the first player ever to average a triple double in the Finals, as he once again put Cleveland on his back. Unlike last year, though, when the Cavs rebounded from a 3-1 deficit, James couldn't pull off a miracle once Golden State went up 3-0 in 2017. There will still be people who bash James for losing, not shooting enough, passing late in the game, etc. The dude's a warrior. Last night he played 47 of 48 minutes and scored 41 points.

2. Gilman grad Gavin Sheets, currently playing in the College Baseball World Series with Wake Forest was selected in the second round of last night's MLB draft by the Chicago White Sox. He's the son of former Oriole, Larry Sheets. Although still a junior, Sheets is expected to sign wtih the White Sox.

3. Aaron Judge did it again last night, as his 8th inning home run (438 feet) gave the Yankees a 5-3 win in Los Angeles over the Angels. New York might still be a bit pitching thin, but they'll land someone worth having at the deadline. That trade last July that sent Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs will pay even bigger dividends for the Bronx Bombers this summer when they package a prospect or two for a good starter.

41 points last night wasn't enough for LeBron James, as the Cavaliers fell to the Warriors in Game 5 of the NBA Finals to lose in the championship series for the second time in three years.

4. I like the Jeremy Maclin signing by the Ravens but let's not get fooled into thinking that John Harbaugh's team just signed one of the game's great wide-outs. Maclin is a good receiver and in Baltimore, good might look like great, but he's definitely not an "elite" (yep, that word) pass catcher in the league. Still, the Ravens' receiving corps is better today than it was yesterday, so that's a start.

5. I don't mind the Orioles losing, even though this 9-21 skid is looking like a season-changer. What I do mind, though, are seeing guys either not trying or making silly mistakes. Sunday in New York, Chris Davis hit a ball to the right field wall that should have easily been a double. Instead, he jogged to first base, stopped there, and was probably just content to have recorded a hit. Last night in Chicago, Adam Jones chased a ball that was hit over his head (the team wanted him to play more shallow out there this year, remember), got to it, then turned around flung it back to the infield without any regard at all for hitting the cut-off man. When the ball fell in no-man's land, the White Sox scored another run. Then, in the top of the 9th with two outs, the O's cut the deficit to 10-7 when Jonathan Schoop knocked in Mark Trumbo. But Schoop was thrown out trying to go from first to second when Chicago tried to get Trumbo out at the plate. Those things drive me nuts.

6. We'll delve more into Orioles trade-deadline offerings tomorrow here at #DMD, but they really only have four pieces worth dangling at the deadline and one of them (Britton) basically hasn't pitched this season. It's really a shame that Britton has been shelved, because he'd fetch a top prospect or two from a team desperate (Boston?) for a closer at the end of July. Then again, if Britton wasn't injured, the Orioles might not be 31-31, right?

7. Yankee Stadium is a pretty cool place to visit but that daggone whistle after New York strikes out an opposing hitter is maddening. What is that effing thing?

8. I like what the Ravens have done this off-season and I suspect they're going to be back in the playoffs in 2017, barring an injury to Joe Flacco. Their defense should be much improved over a year ago and Monday's addition of the aforementioned Jeremy Maclin should help their offense. Just remember this: The Ravens scored a lot of points last year. They had four games won, only to have their defense (and Philadelphia's head coach) squander fourth quarter leads. If the Baltimore defense is as improved in 2017 as it appears it might be, I can see a 10-6 or 11-5 campaign for the Ravens.

9. Hats off to the Pittsburgh Penguins, who captured their second straight NHL title on Sunday night in Nashville. As a Caps fan, there's not much to say about Pittsburgh winning again. As long as they have Sidney Crosby, they have a chance to come out on top. As always, there IS a silver lining when the Penguins win a Stanley Cup championship. It means the other team in Pennsylvania doesn't win one, again. So, celebrate that, friends. The Flyers, again, are losers.

10. My U.S. Open preview concludes tomorrow with my predicted winner and here's who it's not going to be: Jordan Spieth. In fact, I don't have Spieth in my Top Ten. I will give you this, though: My winner is an American. Come back tomorrow to see who it is. Remember, I had Sergio Garcia winning The Masters and he did. In other words, if you're looking to make a wager on the U.S. Open, waiting a day for my winner might be worth it.

11. Christos FC, the Baltimore amateur soccer team who has advanced to the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup, takes on D.C. United tonight at Maryland SoccerPlex in Germantown. United are apparently using mostly reserve players for this tilt, a tradition that every MLS teams employ when they face an amateur team in this event. That's a smart move. It gives them a chance to see their rising stars in a game situation and also gives them an excuse if they lose.

12. Don't look now, but the Orioles are almost in last place in the A.L. East. The Birds are 31-31 and 5th place Toronto, who started the season 2-11, has climbed all the way back to 31-32. We're not used to last place around here, folks. We owned it for the better part of a decade or so in the early 2000's, but over the last five years, it's been a good run in Baltimore.

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wanna caddie with a big name pro golfer? you can!


If you're fit enough to carry someone's golf bag around Caves Valley for 18 holes, there's an opportunity waiting for you on July 12.

Now, granted, you have to love golf to accept this job, but a one-day caddying opportunity is available for the Constellation Senior Players Championship at Caves Valley. You'd be caddying for one of the amateurs in the pro-am event, but in your group would be one of the professional players who is competing in the actual event later in the week.

You might get to rub shoulders with Fred Couples, Vijay Singh, Bernhard Langer, Tom Lehman, etc.

I'm in, and so are several of my Calvert Hall golfers. We won't know who we're caddying for until closer to tournament time, but we'll be toting the bag of an amateur in the field and watching some great golf up close and personal as one of the Champions Tour players tees it up on our foursome.

Not only do you get to watch great golf, you get paid for it, too! Plus, you'll receive a complimentary grounds pass to attend the entire event free of charge.

If you're interested in signing up to caddie on July 12 in the pro-am, just reach out to Caves Valley caddie master Brian Huebeck (bheubeck@cavesvalley.net) and he'll get you all set up.

And I'll see you out there!

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u.s. open preview – drew’s top ten

The U.S. Open golf championship starts on Thursday, June 15, at a place with no professional event history at all.

The site of this year’s tournament is Erin Hills GC in Wisconsin, a tricky, relatively unknown course that many have likened to another first timer from 2015, Chambers Bay.

The players, remember, either loved Chambers Bay or hated it.

Can Martin Kaymer capture his 3rd major championship at Erin Hills this week?

It’s likely they’ll have the same split-decision on Erin Hills, which can tip out at roughly 7,800 yards if the USGA decides to punish the players by playing the course to its maximum length.

It’s likely they won’t do that, though. Officials say they’ll “only” play the course at 7,500-7,600 yards all week.

How nice of them, right?

#DMD will preview the U.S. Open and the predicted Top Ten between now and June 15, with the runner-up and winner revealed tomorrow Wednesday, June 14. Kevin Kisner was #10, Graeme McDowell was #9, Rory McIlroy was #8, Sean O'Hair was #7, Justin Rose was #6, Dustin Johnson was #5, Jason Day was #4 and Louis Oosthuizen was #3.

My #2 "player to watch" this week at Erin Hills is Martin Kaymer.

Kaymer already has one U.S. Open title (2014) to his credit, as he blitzed the field at Pinehurst a few years back. While many predicted no player would break par for four days (and only four players wound up doing so), Kaymer started the event at 65-65 and owned an 8-shot lead at the 36-hole mark.

He also won the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in 2010, a fact that might bode well for him this week at Erin Hills.

Erin Hills was built in the shadows of Whistling Straits (both are in Wisconsin) and has been prepping for this test since it opened almost a decade ago. It's long, punishing if you miss the fairway, and the green complexes are enormous.

All of that plays well into the hands of Kaymer, who can drive it far and straight and possesses one of the best iron games in the world. As he showed at Pinehurst in 2014, when everything is working for him on any given week, he's a tough man to beat.

It's a hunch, nothing more, but I expect Kaymer to handle the difficult Erin Hills layout and be right there in the hunt on Sunday.

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federer blasts lebron, phelps takes on mickelson in final quarterfinal battle


We're wrapping up the quarterfinals of our "Ultimate Winners" bracket challenge today with Baltimore's own Michael Phelps (#3 seed) taking on Phil Mickelson (#11).

Yesterday, Roger Federer (68%) easily defeated LeBron James (32%) to earn his way into the semifinals, where he will face the winner of today's Phelps-Mickelson match-up.

Tiger Woods will face Tom Brady in the first semifinal, which will run this Thursday and Friday here at #DMD.

One win away from the career grand-slam, Phil Mickelson has three Masters titles and one win each in the PGA and British Open.

So, who do you have today? Phelps? Or Mickelson?

Phelps is our country's greatest Olympic swimming champion of all-time, while Mickelson is one of golf's top performers over the last two decades.

Both men are GREAT champions in their respective sport.

But who has been the "better" winner?

You get to vote today and send one of them to the semifinals. The loser goes home, unfortunately.

I again ask that you take a few minutes to read through each competitor's biographies and career stats to make the best vote you can.

You can find Michael Phelps' career information here.

You can find Phil Mickelson's career information here.

Please take a few minutes today to really look through what each of the men has done and vote for your winner below. And remember, your vote counts. In the opening round of the contest, Roger Federer beat Michael Jordan by ONE vote.


 Drew's Morning Dish

#DMD Poll

Question: What is the Ravens biggest problem thus far in 2017?
Flacco and his QB play
Lack of receivers and playmakers
Key injuries
Offensive and defensive schemes
Harbaugh and his coaching
Name
Email address

Monday
June 12
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXV
Issue 12
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when the 9-year old is calling it, you know the o's are in trouble


Our #DMD bus was just past Wilmington, Delaware yesterday morning when my 9-year old son, Ethan, looked up from a book he was reading. "Hey Dad, who's pitching for the Orioles today?" he asked.

"Kevin Gausman," I replied.

Without missing a beat, he looked back down at his book. "Oh, well, we're probably gonna lose this one then, right Dad?"

In the bottom of the first inning as the Yankees continued their weekend onslaught with five runs in the opening frame, Ethan nudged me with his elbow. "Hey, Dad, is Gausman going to be this bad all season long?"

Aaron Judge hit a 496-foot home run off of Logan Verrett on Sunday in New York as the Yankees blasted the Birds, 14-3.

I didn't know how to answer that, but my internal reaction to that question was quick: "Yes, probably."

When the Yankees loaded the bases in the second inning, Ethan spoke for a large number of O's fans who made the trek to Yankee Stadium. "Why doesn't he get these batters out, Dad? This is going to be a long day."

It turned out to be a long day and a longer weekend, even, as the Birds got squashed on Sunday, 14-3, as the Yankees outscored the Orioles 38-8 in the three games at Yankee Stadium.

And the Judge, it turns out, wasn't kind to the O's when he handed down his verdict yesterday. Aaron Judge hit two more home runs, including a mammoth shot of 496 feet, as New York sent a very clear message over the weekend -- they're large and in charge in the American League East and not backing off of anyone.

The Orioles, after starting a MLB-best 22-10, are now 31-30. And reeling.

It's so bad for the Birds that Tampa Bay (34-31) is now a half-game ahead of Buck's team and Toronto (31-32) is just one game behind the O's. Last place isn't that far away, kids.

In the first 20% of the season (rough math), the O's were 12 games above .500. In the second 20% portion, the O's are 9-20.

In the NFL, twenty percent of the 16-game schedule is basically three games. If the Ravens lost three straight games over 20% of their schedule by the scores of 27-6, 54-7 and 48-7, the football fans in town would be saying "Harbaugh's lost the locker room, he has to go."

The Orioles just lost to the Yankees 8-2, 16-3 and 14-3, football's basic equivalent to 27-6, 54-7 and 48-7.

I don't know that Showalter has "lost the locker room", but his team has spiraled out of control over the last month. From a record of 22-10 to 31-30. That's hard to do in baseball.

The football coach would definitely be getting the blame if 20% of the schedule was a debacle like the most recent 20% of the O's schedule has been a complete dumpster fire.

When newcomer Jimmy Yacobonis was getting torched in his major league debut in the 7th inning yesterday, Ethan leaned over and said, "Is Buck Showalter still managing Dad? Why does he leave this guy in there?"

Those kids...they say the darndest things, huh?

In fact, I, too, thought it was a little mean of Buck to leave the rookie in there to get blown up like that, but Showalter has four games in Chicago to think about and probably figured he'd get the most out of Yacobonis he could.

"He's getting $108 in meal money today, make him earn it," Buck probably said to no one in particular as the Yankees poured it on in the 7th.

In defense of Showalter, though, he's playing a 7,000 yard golf course with a 3-wood, 7-iron, wedge and putter. He doesn't have enough clubs in his bag to do anything except hope the other team doesn't feel like trying hard that day.

I'm typically of the mindset that a loss-is-a-loss-is-a-loss and in baseball, losing 3-2 is like losing 11-2. You file that one away and get up the next day in pursuit of a win. But that 3-game pounding the O's just took in New York was delivered with a message from the Bronx Bombers. And it left a mark, I'm afraid.

And that Judge guy? Holy-freakin'-cow. Yes, I know he's owned the O's all season and has been "good" against everyone else, but there was no stopping him over the weekend, including on Sunday when he went 4-for-4 and came within a triple of hitting for the cycle.

He's not the whole team, though. Aaron Hicks is a stud. Starlin Castro is having a terrific season. Gary Sanchez is a tough out. Everywhere you look, the New York lineup is filled with guys who can hit, get on base and score runs.

The Orioles, meanwhile, are in big trouble. Make that BIG in all caps.

Gausman departed in the top of the 4th after giving up seven runs, walking six New York hitters along the way. While he's not the only Baltimore starter enduring troubled times, he's probably the one with the least amount of excuses.

It's just ugly for Gausman these days. Three weeks ago I wrote the Orioles should figure out a way to creatively get him on the disabled list so he could make a few minor league rehab starts and try to figure some things out in Norfolk. That logic is even more sound now.

But the problem with shelving Gausman is that no one else is worth bringing up to start every 5th day. It's the same issue the O's have with Chris Tillman and Alec Asher. If not them, then who?

Losing three road games 38-8 is bad enough. But if that somehow happened against, say, a red-hot Tigers team, you wouldn't be quite as worried as having it applied by the Yankees. When New York wallops you 38-8, it's time to stand up and take notice.

This downward spiral is getting more ugly by the inning, let alone more ugly by the game.

And all the losing, coupled with the Yankees looking like they're "real", is going to bring about the question of whether or not the O's should look to sell off some quality pieces at the trade deadline next month.

We'll tackle some of that later this week here at #DMD, but folks around town are going to be clamoring for a fire sale if the rest of this week doesn't see a turnaround in Chicago and at home vs. the St. Louis Cardinals.

As we left the ballpark yesterday and headed back to the bus, Ethan spoke for a number of O's fans who were disappointed with Sunday's result. "Our pitchers aren't very good," he said. I laughed and we kept walking before he threw one more gem out there. "Why don't we trade Manny Machado for Aaron Judge?"

Yes, there's an idea. Judge for Machado. Somehow, I don't think the Yankees would do that.

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arena's roster gamble pays off as u.s. earns 1-1 tie at mexico


When Bruce Arena revealed his starting eleven for Sunday night's critical World Cup qualifying game in Mexico City, more than one U.S. soccer follower was in shock.

Goalkeeper Tim Howard out -- and Brad Guzan in?

John Brooks out -- Tim Ream in?

No Clint Dempsey on the lineup card -- Bobby Wood instead would start as the lone forward in a peculiar 5-4-1 system that featured just one lone striker.

U.S. men's national team coach Bruce Arena made several startling lineup changes last night in the game at Mexico, but they mostly worked out perfectly as the Americans earned an important 1-1 tie.

Fabian Johnson, heretofore one of the team's most reliable back players, left out of the lineup, as was Darlington Nagbe, who had been solid against Trinidad and Tobago just four days earlier.

Arena rolled the dice, big time, on Sunday night at Azteca Stadium.

But the result justified those decisions from the U.S. head coach, as the Americans played stifling defense except for a lone counter attack goal from the Mexicans in a 1-1 draw that gives the U.S. eight points through six qualifying games and puts them in solid position to qualify for next summer's World Cup in Russia.

Mexico now has 14 points and remains in first place in CONCACAF. Costa Rica (5 games played) and the U.S. (6 games) are next at 8 points each. The top three teams automatically qualify for Russia 2018.

Prior to Arena taking over late last year, the U.S. played two qualifying games and earned zero points. Everyone who followed U.S. soccer said the same thing: "We need to somehow have at least eight points after the game in Mexico in June."

And that's exactly what happened, as the U.S. beat Honduras at home and tied Panama on the road in March, then beat Trinidad last Thursday night and drew 1-1 with Mexico last night. Win at home and tie on the road will get you to the World Cup every time.

Here's a player-by-player look at last night's big point-earner vs. Mexico.

Brad Guzan: 6 -- Wasn't positioned well on the 22nd minute goal from the Mexicans but on the whole he handled himself well on Sunday night. Snatched a couple of dangerous crosses out of the air and didn't let that first goal rattle him.

DeAndre Yedlin: 6.5 -- Another solid performance, although he occasionally still has problems stepping up to put his man offside, a mistake that nearly cost the Americans last night when Chicharito got free because of a Yedlin oversight. Still, though, he's becoming a reliable presence in the back.

Tim Ream: 6.5 -- Solid night defensively for Ream, although he wasn't involved offensively as he's been in the past. Still, he stepped up with a game when the U.S. needed it most.

Omar Gonzalez: 6.5 -- Was strong in the box and cleared several potential scoring chances before they materialized, but his misplays on two offensive chances in the first half loomed large later in the game when the U.S. couldn't put a second goal on the board.

Geoff Cameron: 7.5 -- Got caught jogging back on the Mexican goal in the first half, but he more than made up for that overall, as Cameron had the best game of his national team career. Time and time again was in the right spot at the right time as Mexico looked for the go-ahead goal. It was his night to shine, for sure.

DeMarcus Beasley: 6 -- Badly beat for speed on Mexico's goal, but other than that, he put up a game effort for 90 minutes and actually got better as the night went on.

Michael Bradley: 7 -- His 6th minute goal was a thing of beauty, a 30-yard chip over the Mexican goalkeeper, and he nearly put the U.S. up 2-1 in the 75th minute but his right footed shot clanged off the right goalpost and out of harm's way. Did cough up the ball once or twice in a bad area as he's prone to do, but that goal was worth the price of admission -- if you root for the U.S., that is.

Kellyn Acosta: 7 -- Made his World Cup qualifying debut in one of the toughest places in the world to play and more than held his own. We're going to see a lot more of him in the next six months, I'm sure.

Paul Arriola: 5 -- One of the roster gambles from Arena that didn't pay off. Out of his element on several occasions and seemingly too soft in moments when toughness and fortitude mattered.

Christian Pulisic: 6 -- Found out that playing Mexico on the road isn't quite the cakewalk as playing Trinidad at home. Tried hard and wasn't afraid to get the ball and go forward, but the Mexicans weren't giving an inch and the 18-year old found the going to be difficult. His 80th minute chance wasn't well struck.

Bobby Wood: 5.5 -- Offered very little until he was subbed for in the 75th minute. First touch still an issue for him, particularly when pressured.

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u.s. open preview – drew’s top ten

The U.S. Open golf championship starts on Thursday, June 15, at a place with no professional event history at all.

The site of this year’s tournament is Erin Hills GC in Wisconsin, a tricky, relatively unknown course that many have likened to another first timer from 2015, Chambers Bay.

The players, remember, either loved Chambers Bay or hated it.

A second place finish in The Player's Championship last month was a solid tune-up for former British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen.

It’s likely they’ll have the same split-decision on Erin Hills, which can tip out at roughly 7,800 yards if the USGA decides to punish the players by playing the course to its maximum length.

It’s likely they won’t do that, though. Officials say they’ll “only” play the course at 7,500-7,600 yards all week.

How nice of them, right?

#DMD will preview the U.S. Open and the predicted Top Ten between now and June 15, with the runner-up and winner revealed next Wednesday, June 14. Kevin Kisner was #10, Graeme McDowell was #9, Rory McIlroy was #8, Sean O'Hair was #7, Justin Rose was #6, Dustin Johnson was #5 and Jason Day was #4.

My #3 "player to watch" this week at Erin Hills is Louis Oosthuizen.

I think he's one of the most underrated players in the world, and if not for a couple of narrowly missed opportunities, he'd be looking at three major titles by now and one (PGA) away from the career grand slam.

Oosthuizen's greatest strength fits perfectly with the U.S. Open "style". He just hits it from A to B, gets it on the green in regulation, makes a couple of putts here and there, and suddenly his name appears on the leaderboard.

When his putter is "on", there are few players in the world who are better.

Simply put, Oosthuizen is a grinder. He stays in every round, tries to squeeze the most out of it he can, and won't let a few bogeys or a bad break or two get him down. Most importantly, he drives it straight, which is going to be crucial at Erin Hills this week.

Watch out for Louis Oosthuizen.

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federer takes on lebron in today's "ultimate winners" quarterfinal


Two more quarterfinal match-ups to come and we'll be down to our final four in the #DMD "Ultimate Winners" bracket challenge. The first one is today, where #15 seed Roger Federer takes on #7 seed LeBron James. Tomorrow, it's Michael Phelps (#3) vs. Phil Mickelson (#11).

Playing in his 7th straight NBA Final, LeBron and the Cavaliers are looking to repeat as NBA champs but they're currently in a 3-1 hole against Golden State, who host Game 5 tonight in Oakland.

Roger Federer is the greatest men's tennis player since the days of Pete Sampras, John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, etc. No one would argue that.

LeBron James never spent a day in college, entered the NBA right out of high school, and lived up to all the hype and promise.

Both men are GREAT champions in their respective sport.

But who has been the "better" winner?

You get to vote today and send one of them to the semifinals. The loser goes home, unfortunately.

I again ask that you take a few minutes to read through each competitor's biographies and career stats to make the best vote you can.

You can find Roger Federer’s career information here.

You can find LeBron James' career information here.

Please take a few minutes today to really look through what each of the men has done and vote for your winner below. And remember, your vote counts. In the opening round of the contest, Roger Federer beat Michael Jordan by ONE vote.


 Drew's Morning Dish

#DMD Poll

Question: What is the Ravens biggest problem thus far in 2017?
Flacco and his QB play
Lack of receivers and playmakers
Key injuries
Offensive and defensive schemes
Harbaugh and his coaching
Name
Email address

Sunday
June 11
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXV
Issue 11
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


it's almost time to really start worrying


I guess some folks have been fretting over the Orioles since early May or so, but after last night's 16-3 pasting in New York, anyone who wasn't concerned surely is by now.

This is starting to get ugly.

Chris Tillman's taxi ride from the team's Manhattan hotel to the Bronx took longer than his stint on the mound last night. Honestly.

Is a stint on the disabled list imminent for Chris Tillman?

The Yankees drilled the Birds' "ace" for six runs in the first inning -- all coming after Tillman had retired the first two batters he faced -- and three more in the second before Buck Showalter yanked him. It was 9-0 after two innings. The remainder of the game was just exercise, essentially. As long as no one got hurt the rest of the night, it was all labeled a success.

Chris Davis and Joey Rickard homered for the O's, who are now just a half-game ahead of Tampa Bay in the fight for 3rd place in the A.L. East. And the Yankees now own a 5.5 game lead on the O's.

It goes without saying that Kevin Gausman has to come up big this afternoon (1:05 pm) when the series concludes at Yankee Stadium. New York is starting someone named Chad Green but it probably won't matter. The O's have nine total hits in the two games in the Bronx this weekend. New York could throw Ron Guidry and he'd probably stymie the Birds on seven hits over 6.2 innings.

But no matter what happens today (hey, the Orioles could win, you know), it's evident at this point that the O's have some serious issues within the 25-man roster. There was lots of social outcry last night for the team to "blow it up", "trade Manny", "stock the farm system", etc., but that kind of overreaction doesn't get anyone anywhere.

Should the O's look to be "sellers" at the deadline in six weeks? Sure, that's a definite possibility. But who are they getting rid of that someone else would covet? Welington Castillo comes to mind, for one, and perhaps Wade Miley would be of interest to a team in need of a left-handed starter, but neither of those guys are going to fetch much in return. Brad Brach might garner the O's something decent if they decide to part company with him, but no one else currently playing and expendable would be of much interest to the rest of the teams.

Just think where we'd be if the Pirates bullpen hadn't gift-wrapped those two wins in Baltimore on Tuesday and Wednesday night.

The O's are now 9-19 in their last 28 games, sliding from 22-10 to 31-29 in no time flat.

After today's game in New York, the Birds head to Chicago for four with the White Sox, then come home for three vs. St. Louis and four vs. the defending A.L. champion Indians. Those twelve games will probably start or stop any discussion from within the organization on whether to buy or sell at the end-of-July trade deadline. In reality, the O's don't have much on the farm they can give up to get anyone good at the deadline, anyway, so there's probably no reason to think about upgrading even if the record dictates it.


nats gm tells o's to "quit whining" about thursday's make-up game


I can't believe I'm going to side with the Nationals on this situation, but I'm going to do just that.

Nats' GM Mike Rizzo finally got tired of hearing Buck Showalter complain about Thursday's make-up game in D.C. and told the O's skipper to "quit whining" in the aftermath of the 6-1 D.C. victory that was originally supposed to be played back on May 11.

I heard Buck mention it on several occasions before and after Thursday's game and it sounded like sour grapes every time he brought it up.

The O's played Pittsburgh in Baltimore on Wednesday night. The Nationals were in Los Angeles facing the Dodgers on Wednesday afternoon, then got in around 2 am D.C. time on Thursday morning before facing the Birds later that evening.

I realize Buck's feathers were ruffled about the way the May 11 game was called off so abruptly, but the bottom line is both teams had to play on Thursday and both were in action on Wednesday. The advantage went to no one.

Rizzo will look like a pompous jerk for the tenor of his comments directed at Showalter, but Buck has developed a little knack for whining during the last month or thereabouts. I guess I'd whine too, though, if the GM gave me guys like Tyler Wilson, Mike Wright, Stefan Crichton and Edwin Jackson and expected me to win for him.

Showalter's insistence on bringing up the rainout and the make-up date just makes him look bad in the wake of the team going 9-19 since May 10. You expect the team broadcasters to beat that dead horse (and they did...Hunter and Bordick particularly) but not the manager.

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u.s. soccer could start to punch their world cup ticket with a win tonight in mexico city


Asking the U.S. to win tonight's big CONCACAF World Cup qualifier at Mexico might be a tad ambitious, but there's no doubt what a win would do for the Americans if they can pull one off this evening.

A victory and the three accompanying points would give the U.S. 10 points through six games and would likely mean they'd only have to win their remaining two home games (Costa Rica and Panama) to earn enough points to finish in the top three and automatically qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Can Bruce Arena get quality minutes out of 34-year old Clint Dempsey at high altitude in Mexico City tonight?.

But winning in Mexico City is very, very difficult. Think of it like NFL teams trying to go into New England and win. It just doesn't happen that much.

The good news for the Americans, though, is a tie would also do them a world of good. In other words, they don't have to win tonight. A tie would be just fine.

The biggest issue for the U.S. is the lineup coach Bruce Arena decides to use and the style of play he wants to see his team put out there against the first place Mexican team. Will Arena go with an offensive-minded unit to start the game and try to keep it close long enough to play things closer to the vest in the final 20-25 minutes or will the U.S. come out in a defensive-minded posture and try to slow the game down and perhaps go with some offensive substitutes around the 70 minute mark?

Arena knows a draw is important tonight. A loss wouldn't crush the Americans by any means, but a point on the road in any World Cup qualifier is important. A point on Mexican soil is something not many teams accomplish come qualifying time.

If the U.S. tries to go more defensive minded tonight, expect Alejandro Bedoya to get the start and Darlington Nagbe to sit this one out. There's also a chance Omar Gonzalez starts in the back because of his physical presence.

If Arena wants to use his best offensive team to start out, he'll go with Dempsey and Altidore up top with Bobby Wood again coming on midway through the second half if necessary.

One thing for certain: The Americans are going to have to score goals tonight. They're not earning any points if they have a "0" on the scoreboard next to their name after 90 minutes of play.

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u.s. open preview – drew’s top ten

The U.S. Open golf championship starts on Thursday, June 15, at a place with no professional event history at all.

The site of this year’s tournament is Erin Hills GC in Wisconsin, a tricky, relatively unknown course that many have likened to another first timer from 2015, Chambers Bay.

The players, remember, either loved Chambers Bay or hated it.

Jason Day is primed to win his second career major title at Erin Hills.

It’s likely they’ll have the same split-decision on Erin Hills, which can tip out at roughly 7,800 yards if the USGA decides to punish the players by playing the course to its maximum length.

It’s likely they won’t do that, though. Officials say they’ll “only” play the course at 7,500-7,600 yards all week.

How nice of them, right?

#DMD will preview the U.S. Open and the predicted Top Ten between now and June 15, with the runner-up and winner revealed next Wednesday, June 14. Kevin Kisner was #10, Graeme McDowell was #9, Rory McIlroy was #8, Sean O'Hair was #7, Justin Rose was #6 and Dustin Johnson was #5.

My #4 "player to watch" this week at Erin Hills is Jason Day, who I think has an outstanding chance of winning the golf tournament.

Day does it all. Driver? Long and straight. Irons? Accurate. Short game? Plenty good enough. Putting? When he's on, he makes 'em in bunches.

He hasn't been completely healthy over the last year, but he's still managed to play solid golf, win tournaments and stay near the top of golf's world ranking. If he's ready to go physically this week -- which, apparently, he is -- Erin Hills seems like a place he'd pick apart.

Glory
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Saturday
June 10
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXV
Issue 10
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pitching woes hurt birds in new york as yankees win series opener


You can almost see it in Buck's face now every time the MASN cameras pan over to him during a broadcast.

It's as if he's saying: "I don't have the horses for this race."

He had that look a lot in the 7th and 8th innings last night in New York, where the Yankees broke open a one-run game by feasting on ne'er-do-wells Edwin Jackson and Stefan Crichton in an 8-2 New York win.

It was 3-2 in favor of New York when Showalter inserted Jackson to start the bottom of the 7th inning.

It was a "good" night for Dylan Bundy on Friday, but the Orioles needed a "great" start from him and couldn't get it.

I don't know what the Oriole see in him -- Jackson, not Showalter -- and I said that before last night's implosion that took a 3-2 game and turned it into a 5-2 deficit. Jackson botched a routine ground ball to lead off the inning, throwing the ball at Chris Davis' feet to allow the leadoff hitter to reach base.

"Well, you know that dude's going to score," I said to my buddy Dale Williams as we watched the game after a day of golf and baking in the sun at the Eagle's Nest member-guest tournament.

"No doubt," he replied.

And score he did, as Aaron Hicks launched his 2nd home run of the night a few minutes later to extend New York's lead to 5-2.

Jackson wasn't done. He walked Aaron Judge on four pitches and then served up a meatball to Matt Holliday, who roped it to the wall to send Judge all the way around from first base to score. Judge has some wheels, by the way. Not only can he clobber home runs, he can move around the bases pretty swiftly.

Showalter mercifully put an end to Jackson's debacle-of-a-night and brought in Crichton, who was called up earlier in the day when Darren O'Day was placed on the disabled list with a sore shoulder. Crichton was just as ineffective as Jackson, as he loaded the bases with no one out in the 8th and eventually gave up two more runs to finalize the scoring at 8-2.

The Orioles only collected five hits on the night and had just one base runner after the fifth inning. You're not winning many games with that kind of offensive production.

But you're also not going to win much when you're trailing 5-2 (unless you're playing the Pirates) in the other guy's ballpark in the 7th inning.

This Baltimore pitching staff isn't very good.

Dylan Bundy was decent on Friday evening, working six innings and allowing just five hits and three runs. But on a night when the Orioles needed more out of him, he couldn't deliver.

And neither could the O's bullpen.

Showalter even got snippy with Gary Thorne after last night's game when the play-by-play man asked him if the team's bullpen issues can be traced back to Zach Britton's injury and stint on the disabled list. The manager shot Thorne a sideways look and said, "No, no, we're not using that excuse. And I'm not going to let that idea get into our clubhouse."

Buck's quick exit once Thorne wrapped up the interview was body-language 101 for "Who let this a-hole ask me questions after the game?"

To be fair to Thorne, the things-unraveled-after-the-Britton-injury topic was first brought up in the broadcast by Mike Bordick, who is in hot pursuit of Jim Hunter for the team's "top homer" award. He beat that notion into the ground during the 7th and 8th innings and Thorne figured it was as good a question as any to ask Showalter afterwards.

But Buck didn't like the question one bit.

He also probably doesn't like much about his bullpen either, but he's not going to say that on live TV.

It's Chris Tillman vs. Luis Severino tonight in the Bronx, as the Yankees look to extend their 4.5 game lead over the Birds.

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wide open belmont field makes today's race interesting


With no Triple Crown at stake and the Derby and Preakness winners both opting to sit this one out, you'd think today's running of The Belmont Stakes might not be worth following.

Wrong.

Sure, the race's value has been diminished by those two facts above, but the field of 12 presents some interesting betting options and plenty of the nation's top jockeys have still found mounts for the final race of the 2017 Triple Crown series.

Here's the field for today's race with the jockeys in parentheses:

1 - Twisted Tom (Javier Castellano), 20-1 -- Definitely worth looking at, if for not other reason than Castellano is terrific in the irons.

2 - Tapwrit (Jose Ortiz, Jr.), 6-1-- Got jammed early in the Derby and still managed to finish 6th. Todd Pletcher doesn't put a horse in there that doesn't have a chance and Ortiz is a solid rider. If you're betting the race, make sure the 2 horse gets some action.

3 - Gormley (Victor Espinoza), 8-1 -- This was a promising horse when he won the Santa Anita Derby earlier this year, but he failed to replicate that form in the Derby.

4 - J Boys Echo (Robby Albarado), 15-1 -- Won the Ohio Derby, but was sluggish in the Derby and then passed on The Preakness before setting up shop at The Belmont. If you're a believer in the Beyer speed figure this horse has the highest one (102) of any competitor in the field today.

5 - Hollywood Handsome (Florent Geroux), 30-1 -- Out of his element today. Nothing to see here.

6 - Lookin at Lee (Irad Ortiz Jr), 5-1 -- The only horse in the field who ran both the Derby and Preakness. His recent form is impressive, but it's hard for horses to run all three Triple Crown races with premium quality in each.

7 - Irish War Cry (Rajiv Maragh), 7-2 -- Was a favorite heading into the Derby and then flattened out badly at Churchill Downs five weeks ago. It stands to reason he's the one to watch today based on his promise and pedigree.

8 - Senior Investment (Channing Hill), 12-1 -- Likes to come from off the pace, which garnered him a 3rd place showing at The Preakness, and the watered down field at The Belmont might help him stay close enough that a late surge will put him in the money.

9 - Meantime (Mike Smith), 15-1 -- Will set the pace early on today but won't be there when they head for home. Just in it to get on TV, basically.

10 - Multiplier (Joel Rosario), 15-1 -- Finished 4th in the Preakness but is lightly raced overall and probably won't factor in today's proceedings.

11 - Epicharis (Christophe Romaire), 4-1 -- Has some impressive speed numbers but has been bothered with a mysterious illness recently and should probably be avoided (betting wise).

12 - Patch (John Velazquez), 12-1 -- Drew the far outside post position at The Derby and failed to ignite there and once again drew the far position in this race, but expect him to be better this time around. Velazquez on board helps.


HOW #DMD SEES THE RACE --

There are only a few horses I see having little chance at all to hit the board. When pressed in situations like these, I tend to focus more on trainers and jockeys. In a 12-horse field, one of Todd Pletcher's two horses are finishing in the top three. And both Castellano and Espinoza have to be respected, along with Irish War Crime and Rajiv Maragh.

We're going with Tapwrit (1st), Patch (2nd) and Twisted Tom (3rd) in this one. That's the 2-12-1 triple if you're playing at home. If you want a 4th place finisher, throw Irish War Cry in there.

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u.s. open preview – drew’s top ten

The U.S. Open golf championship starts on Thursday, June 15, at a place with no professional event history at all.

The site of this year’s tournament is Erin Hills GC in Wisconsin, a tricky, relatively unknown course that many have likened to another first timer from 2015, Chambers Bay.

The players, remember, either loved Chambers Bay or hated it.

Can Dustin Johnson repeat as the U.S. Open Champion? You bet he can.

It’s likely they’ll have the same split-decision on Erin Hills, which can tip out at roughly 7,800 yards if the USGA decides to punish the players by playing the course to its maximum length.

It’s likely they won’t do that, though. Officials say they’ll “only” play the course at 7,500-7,600 yards all week.

How nice of them, right?

#DMD will preview the U.S. Open and the predicted Top Ten between now and June 15, with the runner-up and winner revealed next Wednesday, June 14. Kevin Kisner was #10, Graeme McDowell was #9, Rory McIlroy was #8, Sean O'Hair was #7 and Justin Rose was #6.

If you're betting on the U.S. Open and you don't have Dustin Johnson on a wager slip, you're throwing away an opportunity to win money.

I love his chances next week at Erin Hills, as does just about everyone else. He's #5 on my Top 10 list.

True, DJ's form hasn't been great since missing the Masters two months ago, although he did almost wiggle his way into a playoff a few weeks back with a solid Saturday and Sunday.

But the only issue with him is health -- and he's fine heading into the year's second major championship. And when Johnson's healthy, he can win any tournament he enters.

As we saw last year at Oakmont, Johnson is one of the rare players in the world who can bring a massive piece of property to its knees. And it stands to reason that if he can Oakmont beg for mercy, he can do the same thing at Erin Hills.

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brady slips past serena to earn one of the semifinal spots


It was, as promised, another close quarterfinal battle in our "Ultimate Winners" bracket challenge yesterday, but New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (53%) eliminated Serena Williams (47%) to move on to the Final Four.

Brady will face Tiger Woods next week in one of the semifinals.

Coming up next Monday and Tuesday, we have the other two quarterfinal match-ups. It will be #15 seed Roger Federer vs. #7 seed LeBron James (Monday) and #3 seed Michael Phelps vs. #11 seed Phil Mickelson (Tuesday).


Friday
June 9
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXV
Issue 9
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u.s. soccer shines, orioles stink it up


I wrote here back in March that we might very well be looking at the first bonafide homegrown American soccer superstar in Christian Pulisic, who is now essentially in his first "full" year of action with the U.S. men's soccer team.

It's now June, three months later, and I'm as sure as I can be that my intuition in March was spot-on. Pulisic is going to be the most prolific American born soccer player we've ever seen.

That sad notion that you and I would never see the U.S. win a World Cup in our lifetime might be starting to change.

The 18-year old from Hershey, PA put the American team on his back last night in Denver and scored two second half goals as the U.S. beat Trinidad, 2-0, to move into 3rd place in the CONCACAF qualifying standings for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Two goals from Christian Pulisic helped the U.S. beat Trinidad on Thursday night, but the youngster's biggest test of his national team career comes this Sunday night in Mexico City.

It wasn't the cleanest overall performance by the U.S., who gave up several quality scoring chances to the Trinidad side and looked a little disorganized early on.

But goalkeeper Tim Howard was johnny-on-the-spot on a few occasions and a fortunate bounce off the crossbar also helped Bruce Arena's team in the first half.

In the end, though, the 2-0 result was very much justified, as the Americans put the pedal to the floor in the second half after a 0-0 score at intermission.

And, Pulisic wasn't the only U.S. player showing positive signs on Thursday night.

DeAndre Yedlin had a solid game in the back and was involved in the first Pulisic goal. Yedlin is starting to display equal amounts of skill at both ends of the field, which is particularly critical when you have a finisher like Pulisic who only needs one or two chances to score.

Geoff Cameron, who is usually either very good or suspect, was on form last night and did yeoman's work in the back to help keep the sheet clean for the U.S. And by avoiding a second yellow card, he's eligible to play against Mexico this Sunday night. That's an important note.

The Americans also got a surprise performance from Jorge Villafana, as the 27 year old started in midfield and was a tireless worker throughout the game. He helped offset another uninspiring performance from Michael Bradley, but to Bradley's credit, he didn't help or hurt on Thursday night. He was just sort of "out there", but with little impact on the game either way.

And we saw a solid performance from Darlington Nagbe, who linked up with Yedlin to help create the first Pulisic goal. The Americans have some serious speed on the flanks with Nagbe and Pulisic, and with Yedlin also able to flash forward and create danger, the U.S. finally has some players who can beat opposing defenders with pace and nothing else.

But the night belonged to Pulisic, who took a quarter hour or so to get revved up, but was clearly the most dangerous player on the field for the U.S. by the time the game reached the 30-minute mark. He had two nice scoring chances in the first half that failed to find the back of the net, then got the party started at the 52 minute mark with a nice sliding finish from eight yards out to put the Americans up 1-0.

Ten minutes later, the 18-year-old took a feed from Jozy Altidore on the right side, beat his man to open space, and slid a tight shot to the near post to make it 2-0.

All eyes now turn to Sunday's big showdown in Mexico City (8:30 pm), where the U.S. will look to avenge a 2-1 home loss to Mexico last November that was the beginning of the end for then-coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

Mexico leads the CONCACAF region with 13 points after last night's 3-0 thrashing of outclassed Honduras. The Americans now have seven points.


While everything was perfect for U.S. Soccer last night, nothing went well for the Orioles in Washington D.C., as they were whipped by the Nationals, 6-1.

Alec Asher gave up four first inning runs and the Orioles struck out 15 times on the night.

If those two facts don't tell you how the game went, nothing will.

A string of decent-to-impressive relief appearances from Ubaldo Jimenez might earn him another shot at the starting rotation if Alec Asher continues to struggle.

Asher is a start or two away from losing his spot in the rotation if he can't perform better than he's shown in his last three starts. The obvious question, of course: "Who starts if Asher gets demoted?"

I can't see the Orioles going back to Jimenez. They know that's a loss waiting-to-happen. But in fairness to Jimenez, he's been fairly effective out of the bullpen over the last couple of weeks.

Who else? Edwin Jackson? Let's hope not. He's done.

Gabriel Ynoa? Maybe. But he might just be Alec Asher part 2.

Then again, it doesn't matter who starts if the Orioles are going to strike out 15 times and generate four hits in nine innings. Cy Young could start for the Birds and they'd still lose with that sort of pathetic offensive display.

Manny Machado (sore wrist) and Adam Jones (rest) didn't play on Thursday night. Chris Davis made his first start at 3rd base since 2014 and Mark Trumbo went to work at first base, with Joey Rickard filling in for Jones in center.

The Orioles might want to consider that set-up (minus Rickard starting over Jones, obviously) in the second half of the season, with Machado moving to shortstop and Davis sliding from first to third and Trumbo and Trey Mancini splitting first base duties.

That would, of course, spell the end of J.J. Hardy as an everyday player, which means the O's would have to eat the final year of his contract (2018) if he's not going to play in the field.

For now, though, let's worry about the O's pitching, which once again last night, wasn't very good.

If not for Pittsburgh's horrendous bullpen, the Birds would have lost their last five games. And now, heading to New York, the O's are going to need to stop a talented Yankees offense and put some runs up themselves.

With each passing week, I get more worried about this Orioles team. They're 31-27 now. Do they reach 44 wins first -- or 44 losses first? I'm afraid they'll hit 44 losses first.

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tiger squeaks past jimmie johnson; serena takes on tom brady today


I said Thursday's quarterfinal match-up between Tiger Woods and Jimmie Johnson would be close and I was right.

In the first of our four quarterfinal contests in the "Ultimate Winners" bracket challenge, Woods (54%) edged Johnson (46%) to move to next week's semifinals.

The Patriots quarterback added a 5th ring to his hands last February when he engineered the greatest Super Bowl comeback ever in a 34-28 overtime win over Atlanta.

Tiger will face today's winner of the Serena Williams-Tom Brady match-up, which is another intriguing quarterfinal battle.

Serena is the greatest women's tennis player of the last 30 years and is still actively chasing after numerous records in her mid-30's.

Brady is a 5-time Super Bowl champion and a slam-dunk first ballot Hall of Famer.

But who has been the "better" winner?

You get to vote today and send one of them to the semifinals. The loser goes home, unfortunately.

As I did yesterday, I again ask that you take a few minutes to read through each competitor's biographies and career stats to make the best vote you can.

You can find Serena Williams’ career information here.

You can find Tom Brady's career information here.

Please take a few minutes today to really look through what each of the men has done and vote for your winner below. And remember, your vote counts. Late last week, Roger Federer beat Michael Jordan by ONE vote in our contest.


 Drew's Morning Dish

#DMD Poll

Question: What is the Ravens biggest problem thus far in 2017?
Flacco and his QB play
Lack of receivers and playmakers
Key injuries
Offensive and defensive schemes
Harbaugh and his coaching
Name
Email address

Round Two
#1 Tiger Woods ✓ vs. #9 Jimmie Johnson ✗
#5 Tom Brady vs. #4 Serena Williams
#15 Roger Federer vs. #10 LeBron James
#3 Michael Phelps vs. #11 Phil Mickelson
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u.s. open preview – drew’s top ten

The U.S. Open golf championship starts on Thursday, June 15, at a place with no professional event history at all.

The site of this year’s tournament is Erin Hills GC in Wisconsin, a tricky, relatively unknown course that many have likened to another first timer from 2015, Chambers Bay.

The players, remember, either loved Chambers Bay or hated it.

Can Justin Rose claim his second U.S. Open trophy next week?

It’s likely they’ll have the same split-decision on Erin Hills, which can tip out at roughly 7,800 yards if the USGA decides to punish the players by playing the course to its maximum length.

It’s likely they won’t do that, though. Officials say they’ll “only” play the course at 7,500-7,600 yards all week.

How nice of them, right?

#DMD will preview the U.S. Open and the predicted Top Ten between now and June 15, with the runner-up and winner revealed next Wednesday, June 14. Kevin Kisner was #10, Graeme McDowell was #9, Rory McIlroy was #8 and yesterday, Sean O'Hair was #7.

It's time to go back to form and include a household name at #6.

I like everything about the golf game of Justin Rose and would never be surprised to see him win any major championship, including this year's U.S. Open.

After narrowly missing a Masters victory in April, Rose is hoping for a reward from the golf gods next week at Erin Hills.

What's Rose do well? Just about everything.

And now that he's won a major, contended in others, starred in the Ryder Cup, etc., there's no Sunday pressure that will bog him down. If you get the chance to place a bet on Rose to win at Erin Hills, you'd be smart to do so.


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Thursday
June 8
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXV
Issue 8
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u.s. soccer is in “better win” territory tonight vs. trinidad


Nothing in CONCACAF is automatic. The other team tries, too, after all.

But tonight’s U.S. soccer game against Trinidad and Tobago is one of those games that the American side should win with ease.

At four points thus far in four qualifying games, the U.S. isn’t in “must win” territory this evening in Denver, but they are most certainly in a situation labeled “better win”.

Dropping this game tonight would be akin to losing at home to the Cleveland Browns in the NFL. Maybe not quite that embarrassing, but you get the idea.

Trinidad has one win in four games, just like the Americans, but the two sides are structured much differently and the U.S. has a legitimate World Cup history over the last three decades while tonight's visitors have been CONCACAF bottom feeders throughout that time.

When the U.S. looked at their 10-game qualifying schedule for Russia 2018, they immediately circled tonight's game and wrote next to it -- WIN.

With two games in four days, both at high altitude, how much playing time will veteran offensive star Clint Dempsey see in tonight's critical home game with Trinidad?

The most interesting aspect of the contest in Denver is the lineup coach Bruce Arena decides to use for this critical showdown.

With Christian Pulisic now a mainstay in the starting 11, it likely means a familiar name will be on the bench to start the game. Arena will play two “top” players (forwards), meaning one of Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore or Bobby Wood will not get the starting nod.

My guess is Arena wants the 34-year old Dempsey to give him as many minutes as possible in this Sunday’s huge qualifying contest in Mexico City against Mexico. The coach probably assumes he can beat Trinidad without Dempsey, so expect Altidore and Wood to get the start tonight, with Dempsey available for substitute work if necessary.

And if the U.S. can win tonight without having to use Dempsey, they’ll have him fully available on Sunday vs. Mexico, which gives the U.S. their best chance to secure at least one point on the road.

The formula for the U.S. this week/weekend is similar to the one they faced back in March when they pasted Honduras, 6-0, and then earned a 1-1 draw at Panama four days later.

The Americans need a minimum of four points in the two games this week against Trinidad and Mexico. It stands to reason the most likely way to do that would be to beat T&T tonight and draw the Mexican side on Sunday.

The top three teams out of the six team CONCACAF region are guaranteed spots in next year's World Cup in Russia. The fourth place finisher could make it, too, but will have to win a 2-game playoff in order to make the field.

So, with six points on the line this weekend, the U.S. needs to claim at least three tonight vs. Trinidad and Tobago. Here are some quick lineup notes and projections for this evening's game.

Expect Tim Howard to get the start in goal this evening and again on Sunday. Howard was terrific in last weekend’s uninspiring 1-1 tie with Venezuela in a friendly match and Arena knows now is not the time to begin testing out new goalkeepers.

One issue for the U.S. tonight could be finding a suitable replace for the injured John Brooks, who is typically the team’s most reliable defensive player. Expect little-used Matt Hedges to start in place of Brooks, but don’t be surprised if Hedges turns in a representative performance. He’s a player who will likely make the final 23-man World Cup roster for Russia 2018 if the U.S. winds up qualifying.

I think (and hope) we’ll get to see Kellyn Acosta in the midfield tonight, which should take a little heat off of Michael Bradley, who has struggled in the four qualifying games to date but won’t be required to do as much defensively if Acosta indeed gets the starting nod.

Acosta will be used primarily to slow down the Trinidad transitition game, which, despite their poor play in qualifying thus far, is still their best offensive weapon. His appearance will also send guys like Bedoya and Zusi to back-up roles and shifts Fabian Johnson, who played midfield in the two March games, to his more familiar fullback position.

DeAndre Yedlin had a spotty first 10 minutes vs. Venezuela but was on point thereafter and will be in the starting backfield tonight, where he occasionally makes intelligent runs and serves a decent ball into the box to help the American offensive attack.

Darlington Nagbe will fill one of attacking winger spots, and while he’s not nearly as crafty and talented as his counterpart, Pulisic, he’s learning more with every game he plays and will have more defensive responsibilities than Pulisic tonight.

While the only thing that matters tonight is winning, this is a game the American squad should capture easily, say to the tune of 2-0 or 3-0.

The only potential hiccup for the U.S. would be to get caught looking ahead to Sunday’s critical showdown with Mexico. Arena doesn’t have a lot of roster and lineup decisions to make tonight, but he better make sure his side stays fully focused on Trinidad, secures those three available points, then shifts their focus to Mexico after this evening’s triumph.

I assume Arena will have that topic -- and many others -- covered very well in preparation for the two games his team faces over the next four days.


not only is scherzer a great pitcher, he's nuts, too


If you haven't seen the clip of Max Scherzer pitching against the Dodgers on Tuesday night, you're in for a real treat today here at #DMD.

Scherzer has apparently been doing this a lot in 2017, but it's just starting to catch on as a national kind of story. And by "this", I mean, growling, snarling and talking smack during his wind-up and delivery.

The video of Scherzer from Tuesday night's game in L.A. is below:



#DMD HD-TV


So, yes, Scherzer is a terrific pitcher, one of the best in the majors, and he's a wild man on the mound as well.

I love watching that video. "Mad Max" can play on my team any day.

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tiger vs. jimmie johnson kicks off our "ultimate winner" quarterfinals


It's time to get down to serious business in our "Ultimate Winners" bracket contest, with the quarterfinals kicking off today.

It's our #1 seed, Tiger Woods going up against the #9 seed, Jimmie Johnson.

This one, I suspect, is going to be very close.

Can #9 seed Jimmie Johnson knock off Tiger Woods in our first quarterfinal match-up today?

Woods is the second winningest player in PGA Tour history, with 79 career victories, trailing only Sam Snead's record of 82 wins. Woods is also second in career major wins with 14, four behind Jack Nicklaus.

Tiger is technically still "active", but it's pretty much a foregone conclusion that his career is finished.

Jimmie Johnson, on the other hand, is still rolling along, having just captured his 83rd career victory recently at Dover International Speedway.

Woods with 79 wins in his career. Johnson with 83. Needless to say, they've both been massive "winners" in their respective careers.

But who has been the "better" winner?

You get to vote today and send one of them to the semifinals. The loser goes home, unfortunately.

You can find Tiger Woods’ career information here.

You can find Jimmie Johnson's career information here.

Please take a few minutes today to really look through what each of the men has done and vote for your winner below. And remember, your vote counts. Late last week, Roger Federer beat Michael Jordan by ONE vote in our contest.

Tomorrow, it's #4 seed Serena Williams vs. #5 seed Tom Brady.


 Drew's Morning Dish

#DMD Poll

Question: What is the Ravens biggest problem thus far in 2017?
Flacco and his QB play
Lack of receivers and playmakers
Key injuries
Offensive and defensive schemes
Harbaugh and his coaching
Name
Email address

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from the desk of
brien jackson

BRIEN JACKSON's work at #DMD promises to provide some of Baltimore's best sports insight and commentary, brought to you by SECU, the official credit-union of Drew's Morning Dish. Brien has done sports media work with ESPN, CBS and NPR. His contributions to #DMD will focus on the Orioles, the Ravens, and national sports stories.


part two -- how the houston astros got this good


Note: Part one of this series can be found in yesterday's #DMD, which you can see simply by scrolling down below and locating the June 7th edition.

continued -- The Astros, in other words, are the first team in baseball since the Moneyball A's to truly exploit a market inefficiency in the game and remake the landscape of the game's markets

We just haven't seen an organization build on the philosophy of acknowledging that they're going to be bad for multiple years, and reconcile themselves to the fact that their situation was so dire that adding middling free agents wasn't going to make a difference within the bounds of reasonable spending parameters, and that adding payroll to win 70 games instead of 60 just didn't make any sense.

It hasn't exactly been a secret that stockpiling cost controlled young talent is the secret to competing for several years in baseball, and even that veteran free agents are highly inefficient expenditures, but the Astros are the first team to truly exploit that fact so ruthlessly and single-mindedly as a means of building a franchise from the literal bottom of the heap into a championship favorite (you could make an argument that Epstein did the same thing with the Cubs, but he had the benefit of waltzing into town as a superstar GM with two World Series rings, and thus had more credibility with fans and the media to do whatever the heck he wanted to for a certain period of time).

Sports Illustrated -- three years ahead of their time with this cover photo in June of 2014.

And while the narrative that sprung up around the Giants and Royals (and even the Mets to a degree) mostly just amounts to putting a fancy gloss on "put together a team of good players and then have a good run in October," the Astros (and Cubs) really will change the way baseball teams operate going forward.

The next GM who wants to emulate what Luhnow and Epstein have done in tearing down to rebuild will have successful examples to point to in order to sell ownership and fans on the idea. The new slotting rules in the MLB draft also shift the balance towards "tanking," as the top 1-3 picks have drastically increased in value now that prospects have little leverage to hold out for larger signing bonuses, while rebuilding teams can no longer quickly accumulate prospects by committing larger draft budgets to buying later round high school picks out of college commitments.

Already we've seen Philadelphia and Atlanta pursue their own version of this strategy, with the Braves even adding a new wrinkle by spending much of their short term payroll on acquiring bad contracts from other clubs (cfe Brandon Phillips) in exchange for some mid-level prospects.

The big question is what this means for the health of the game itself going forward. On the one hand, there's always going to be bad teams, and if everyone recognizes that this is an efficient, relatively fast means of rebuilding (assuming you draft, trade, and develop players well, obviously) that's good in the long run for fans of the worst teams in any given year.

Your mileage may vary, but I'd rather see my team lose 100-105 games for 2 or 3 seasons and then become competitive again with a good young core than watch five or more seasons of 85-95 losses while signing guys like Rafael Palmeiro or Gil Meche in the hopes of turning things around. On the other hand, there's already been a media backlash tagging the strategy as "tanking."

I've never much understood why anyone would think that's a stinging charge against a rebuilding front office myself; pro sports leagues are multi-season enterprises and players are signed to multi-year contracts, so any good organization is going to make decisions based on multi-year plans. If a GM knows his roster isn't any good and he can't turn it around in one season, it's just good sense to keep your eye on the horizon.

But be that as it may, tanking is a heavy word with serious connotations, and MLB isn't going to be very happy if it becomes a common theme of commentary as it has in the NBA (where the draft lottery makes it an even dumber complaint, but I digress). And if the bottom rung of teams in the league are consciously stockpiling cast offs and also rans, the already lessened trade deadline may become a near total non-factor in the season.

But for now it's just a darn good sports story. A team that was the laughing stock of the league for multiple years building from the absolute ground up and just a few years later winning at a record pace.

And a 3 year old magazine cover that may well be recycled in October.

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thursday sports with David Rosenfeld

DAVID ROSENFELD is a former sports publicist who still keeps his eye on the game. Looking at the game, the news or the players on an in-depth level is what he likes to do. Follow his work here at #DMD every Thursday, brought to you by Glory Days Grill.


a few random ravens thoughts


One --

I was taken aback earlier this week when I saw a brief clip of an interview with Marlon Humphrey, the cornerback chosen by the Ravens with the 16th pick in this year’s NFL Draft.

Part of it was my own lack of recall that Humphrey played just two seasons at Alabama—he redshirted as a true freshman—and won’t turn 21 until July 8. He looks incredibly young, not surprising for a guy who graduated high school just three years ago.

How much does it help Ravens first round pick Marlon Humphrey that he played his college football at Alabama, a school many consider as "professional" as any program in the country?

Most of my bemusement came from what Humphrey said, though. I’ll paraphrase for you; the biggest challenge for him, Humphrey said with a smile, has been understanding that playing football is now a job: 8-to-5, sometimes even longer, with lots of meetings and a high level of expectation.

Good news, though. They give you breakfast, lunch and dinner as part of the deal. Can’t beat that with a stick.

So even if you play for Alabama, which must be the most “professional” of all college football programs, it’s a huge adjustment. One week, you’re a college student, whether or not you have the time or inclination to actually take advantage of being in college. The next week, you report to the team facility in the suburbs and you’re supposed to be a pro.

Being handed a guaranteed four-year, $12 million contract with a $6.75 million signing bonus makes you officially a pro. But does it mean you’ll actually be one? Who knows? I don’t think Marlon Humphrey even knows.

Marlon Humphrey played 30 games for Alabama, of which the Crimson Tide lost two. He runs really fast. I didn’t hear about many supposed character issues. He has an NFL pedigree, if such a thing exists.

All of it sounds great, but right now he’s just a guy who’s trying to figure out the best way to navigate his new job.

Think about how many guys every year are in Humphrey’s situation. With the rookie wage scale, and careers on average getting even shorter, teams in the NFL are going to continue to get younger. More players every season will spend most of their time just adjusting to being a pro.

Two --

I had the privilege of being in attendance for maybe the craziest game in M&T Bank Stadium history, the game between the Ravens and Vikings played in the snow and freezing rain on Dec. 8, 2013.

For those that don’t remember, the weather wasn’t even the big story by game’s end. The teams combined for five touchdowns in the last 2:05 of the fourth quarter; the Ravens won 29-26 when Joe Flacco found Marlon Brown in the back of the end zone with four seconds left.

Lost amidst the last two minutes and the first-half blizzard was something else that was crazy: Dennis Pitta had actually returned to the field for the first time since suffering a dislocated and fractured hip in July of that year.

I thought it was a strange decision. Pitta not only had missed the whole season, but the team decided to activate him on a day when the field conditions were about as bad as they can be in Baltimore. Like his team, Pitta got lucky that day, catching six balls for 48 yards and a touchdown.

His luck wouldn’t continue, of course. He dislocated the hip again in September 2014, forcing season-ending surgery, and then didn’t play the next season. Doctors told him it wasn’t safe to play again, but he ignored them. It’s unlikely he’ll be able to ignore them after injuring the hip again last week.

We know that continuing to play was worth it to Pitta in his wallet. His return for that game against the Vikings was a big reason why the team was willing to give him a five-year, $32 million deal the next February.

I’m willing to bet that being able to play the entire 2016 season also made it worth it for Pitta. He caught 86 balls, the most in the league for a tight end, and was pretty much out there for every play that mattered. He looked like a young and healthy guy in a blowout win against the Dolphins in December, scoring a touchdown for the first time since that 2013 game in the snow.

At the exact moment he’d become an established player, his career looked like it was over. For 16 games, he was Dennis Pitta again. I’m happy for him, and I hope I never see him on the field again unless he’s the honorary captain.

Three --

After a few months of draft talk, OTAs and minicamps, it’s always fun to go back through the schedule, which we knew about before all of those things.

I’m particularly interested in the home schedule, because I think a healthy Ravens team has a legitimate chance to finish undefeated at M&T Bank Stadium.

One of the few games on the Ravens' 2017 schedule that is worth worrying about is the annual visit from the Steelers. This year's contest in Baltimore is on Sunday, October 1st, a week after the team returns from a trip to London to face Jackonsville.

First comes Cleveland, so we can move on. Then comes Pittsburgh, and I’m telling you right now that there’s a better than 50 percent chance that Ben Roethlisberger is injured or at least questionable for that October 1 game.

Two weeks later, it’s the Bears, followed by the Dolphins 11 days later on a Thursday night. Chicago should once again be among the league’s worst teams, and I don’t like Ryan Tannehill under the lights on the road.

The Ravens host a Monday night game for the first time in five years when they play the Texans November 27. Remind me who is playing quarterback again for Houston? Oh yes…the immortal Tom Savage, from what I hear.

I’ll give the Ravens’ last three home opponents in 2017 some credit for having decent quarterbacks at least. Matt Stafford, Andrew Luck and even Andy Dalton have won quite a few games by putting the team on their backs. They’ll need to do that in December, since none of their teams will do it for them.

The best thing you can say about the away schedule is that, with the game in London against the Jaguars, the Ravens have one fewer road game than they usually would.

Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, plus Derek Carr in Oakland? Pretty tough. Tennessee and Minnesota? Improving teams. The Steelers are going to be awful mad after losing in Baltimore earlier in the season.

Then again, does it really matter? The Patriots are the only good team in the NFL anyway. On to Cincinnati for the opener...

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u.s. open preview – drew’s top ten

The U.S. Open golf championship starts on Thursday, June 15, at a place with no professional event history at all.

The site of this year’s tournament is Erin Hills GC in Wisconsin, a tricky, relatively unknown course that many have likened to another first timer from 2015, Chambers Bay.

The players, remember, either loved Chambers Bay or hated it.

Sean O'Hair is a 4-time winner on the PGA Tour.

It’s likely they’ll have the same split-decision on Erin Hills, which can tip out at roughly 7,800 yards if the USGA decides to punish the players by playing the course to its maximum length.

It’s likely they won’t do that, though. Officials say they’ll “only” play the course at 7,500-7,600 yards all week.

How nice of them, right?

#DMD will preview the U.S. Open and the predicted Top Ten between now and June 15, with the runner-up and winner revealed next Wednesday, June 14. Kevin Kisner was #10 on Monday, June 5, Graeme McDowell was #9 on Tuesday and Rory McIlroy was #8 on Wednesday, June 7.

I'm going to go off the beaten path a little today at #7, but if you follow the PGA Tour and major championship golf at all, you know someone usually hangs around at the U.S. Open for a few days that doesn't have any business doing so.

There was Mike Donald in the 1990 U.S. Open, taking Hale Irwin to a sudden-death playoff after the traditional 18-hole Monday playoff failed to produce a winner.

Guys like Jason Gore and Olin Browne were in the hunt in the final round of the Open before failing, as was Ricky Barnes at Bethpage when Lucas Glover won.

So, I feel compelled to throw a guy in my top 10 that might give you reason to stop and say, "Really? Him?"

I like Sean O'Hair to play well next week at Erin Hills.

Yeah, I know. Sean O'Hair? He's been down and out for three years now.

I'm aware of that. But he's actually had a good 2017 to date, with 13 cuts made in 16 events, including four top 10 finishes and a second place showing a couple of weeks ago in Fort Worth.

Most of his stats are "middle of the pack" and not much more. Drives it decent, hits enough greens, putts OK. He doesn't do anything spectacular. But he does most everything well enough to make a nice showing in the U.S. Open.

Every year or two, someone comes out of nowhere to contend and hang around. This year, I think it might be Sean O'Hair.


Wednesday
June 7
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXV
Issue 7
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o's late rally saves my tuesday


There's a funny but poignant scene in the movie "Tin Cup" where Roy McAvoy shoots 84 in the opening round of the U.S. Open and is chided at the bar after the round by his nemesis, David Simms.

"How did a legendary ball striker, like yourself, go out there and manage to shoot an 84?" Simms asks McAvoy, expertly played in the movie by Kevin Costner.

"Well, I missed a 6-foot putt for 83," says McAvoy.

That's how simple golf really is. When someone asks "how did you shoot 84?" they're looking for a hole-by-hole blow, with the disasters painted perfectly so you get the high-definition version.

In reality, you shot 84 because you missed a putt for 83, as McAvoy explained to Simms in the bar after the round in "Tin Cup".

In my case yesterday at The Homestead, where I was attempting to qualify for this year's U.S. Senior Open, I had a similar setting. I missed a 12-foot birdie putt at the last hole for 81.

The good news? I had to make a 4-footer coming back for par and somehow coaxed that one in for 82.

Mark Trumbo's 10th inning single lifted the Orioles to a 6-5 win over the Pirates on Tuesday night at Camden Yards as the O's climbed to within 2.5 games of the first-place Yankees.

No one likes to make bogey on the last hole. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth. And I didn't care if that final putt was for 72 or 82, I wanted to make it.

I had known two hours earlier I wasn't going to qualify for the Senior Open. By the time my group (third from the last threesome) reached the 12th tee, word had trickled back to us that a pair of players were three under par heading to the two par 5 holes -- 16 and 17.

I knew right then my day was done. I was 5-over par at that point, having made several unforced errors earlier in the round that put me behind the eight ball on the outward nine.

I stayed in it mentally as well as I could, but it's not easy to plod along for seven holes knowing you're basically playing for nothing. But I tried on every shot coming in, including at the par-3 finishing hole where I hit a 5-iron from 190 yards to 12-feet.

I sure would have liked to have made that birdie putt there, but I didn't.

As I wrote here last week, playing in a qualifier has a distinct hit or miss feeling to it. Over Memorial Day weekend at Eagle's Nest, I shot 76-71-71 for a 54-hole total of 2-over par and a 3rd place finish in our club's Stroke Play Championship. Even though I didn't win, I took a lot of "good" from those three days. That event was a "hit".

Yesterday, anyone who didn't shoot 70 or better was a "miss". My 82 was the same as the guy who shot 72. We both drove home disappointed. There were only four players who left The Homestead happy on Tuesday. The two guys who qualified (67 and 68) and the two alternates (both shot 70).

The Cascades Course at The Homestead is one of the best layouts I've ever played. Despite my struggles yesterday, I think it's an extraordinarily fair test of golf, particularly under tournament conditions. There are lots of hard holes, a few easy ones, and a couple of par 5's on the back nine that give you a chance to make up ground if you're in need of a rally.

At last year's Senior Open qualifier in Philadelphia, I was the second group out, shortly after 8:30 am, and posted a 2-over par round of 74 that had me (and another guy who shot 74) on the top of the leaderboard throughout the morning and early afternoon.

Given my preference, I'd always prefer to go out early in an event rather than late. One of the reasons is because of what happened to us yesterday, when word made its way back that at least two players were going to be shooting something in the 66/67/68 range.

That news, when you're not playing particulary well, really takes the steam out of you.

But, as I tell my Calvert Hall golfers every spring, you continue to play as if none of that matters and you focus on every shot coming in, no matter what your score. Granted, it isn't easy to do, but you stay "in it" as much as you can and try and take a positive of two from the round.

My positive? I hit my best tee-shot of the day on the par-5 16th hole, a drive of 300 yards, and my best iron shot of the day on the 18th hole, with the aforementioned 5-iron on the par-3 finishing hole.

I did hit a number of quality shots on Tuesday and made a bunch of nice putts, albeit mostly for par saves. But I just made too many silly errors on shots I would typically navigate with ease.

I hit a perfectly struck 8-iron from 164 yards to 15-feet at the 10th hole yesterday. Three holes later, I missed the green with a wedge from 121 yards.

Golf is a crazy, crazy game. It can drive you nuts, but only if you allow it to do so.

I got home after the 5-hour drive back to Baltimore just in time to see the O's and Pirates lock horns at Camden Yards. My Tuesday was rescued somewhat by that stirring Orioles comeback in the 9th and their 10th inning triumph over Pittsburgh, 6-5.

Failing to qualify for the Senior Open AND losing to a Pittsburgh team on the same day? Holy cow...

So, when Mark Trumbo singled in Adam Jones in the bottom of the tenth, my day ended well.

The Orioles are now 8-1 in extra inning games. That means, oddly enough, they're actually under .500 in "regular" games, but who cares?

With the Yankees losing to the Red Sox in New York last night, the Birds (30-26) are now within 2.5 games of the Bronx Bombers. And the Orioles will be in New York for a 3-game series with the Yankees starting this Friday night.

So, thank you Orioles. Thank you Jonathan Schoop and Adam Jones and Mark Trumbo. Thanks to the bullpen. Thanks to all of you for rescuing my Tuesday and ending it on a good note.

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ultimate winners contest -- our "elite eight" is set as serena crushes crosby


With her 93% to 7% win over Sidney Crosby yesterday, #4 seed Serena Williams is in the Elite Eight of our "Ultimate Winners" bracket contest, which will begin second round play tomorrow here at #DMD.

Williams is part of perhaps the best second round match-up, as she goes up against New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady on Friday.

Tiger Woods and Jimmie Johnson will kick it off tomorrow, with the winner of that battle facing the Williams-Brady winner in the semi-finals late next week.

Here’s the complete lineup of head-to-head battles in the second round.


Round Two
#1 Tiger Woods vs. #9 Jimmie Johnson
#5 Tom Brady vs. #4 Serena Williams
#15 Roger Federer vs. #10 LeBron James
#3 Michael Phelps vs. #11 Phil Mickelson
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from the desk of
brien jackson

BRIEN JACKSON's work at #DMD promises to provide some of Baltimore's best sports insight and commentary, brought to you by SECU, the official credit-union of Drew's Morning Dish. Brien has done sports media work with ESPN, CBS and NPR. His contributions to #DMD will focus on the Orioles, the Ravens, and national sports stories.


a two-part series on how the houston astros got this good


Call it the "reverse Sports Illustrated jinx".

Back in 2014, the magazine famous for cursing athletes who grace its cover declared the Houston Astros the "2017 World Series Champions" as a teaser to a feature on the team's radical rebuilding plan.

It wasn't meant to be taken entirely literally, and if anything was meant to convey that the franchise itself was almost conscientiously punting on winning in the short term while keeping its eye on the prize of a long term rebuild based on cheap young stars and high draft picks.

Well don't look now, but two months into the 2017 season the Houston Astros have the best record in baseball.

Dallas Keuchel is just one of the gems the Astros have on their roster and a big reason why they're the early favorites to win the 2017 World Series.

Not only that, but with a 42-17 record (after having their 11-game winning streak snapped last night) they're off to baseball's best start since the 2001 Mariners, the winningest regular season team in MLB history. Oh, and the Astros are on pace for a 117 win season, which would best that team by a game, and have a remarkable 13-game lead in the American League West division.

They might not have won the World Series yet, but they're definitely top contenders for the title. It's June 7th, and for Houston to not win their division would take a collapse of bona fide historic proportion. The Astros' rebuild is complete (and they made the ALDS as a wild card team in 2015 to boot) and by any measure it's been a smashing success.

It's become customary for the eventual World Series champion to inspire an entire genre of articles about how they've proved the formula for winning a World Series.

With the Giants in 2012 and 2104, it was "you need a dominant, clutch ace starter."

In 2015, the Royals showed that it was all about building a deep, dominant bullpen that could shorten a game to 5-6 innings.

Last year the Cubs proved....I'm not exactly sure what. Hire Theo Epstein to run your team and take advantage of a year full of events we might previously have regarded as signs of the impending apocalypse, I guess.

In 2017, win or lose, the Astros are going to be the basis for these think pieces on reinventing baseball and, unlike most of the previous iterations, they'll actually merit the attention.

It's easy to forget three years later, and two years removed from a playoff appearance, but Houston's brain trust endured a ridiculous amount of abuse from "industry insiders" over their rebuilding plans.

Rival executives laughed at their plans to tear everything down and build from the ground up, even to the point of enduring multiple 100 loss seasons. Players like Bud Norris and even former manager Bo Porter, who was fired before the end of that 2014 season, bristled at the way management was running the team and clearly did not buy in to GM Jeff Luhnow's vision for future success.

Granting that some of the players in particular might have a point (by more than one account, the front office barely bothered to pretend that the players on those teams were anything but placeholders or show more than a modicum of professional respect), the debate is over and Lunhow and his associates have won decisively.

When the current ownership group took over the Astros, they were purchasing arguably the worst organization in MLB. The days of making the playoffs with veteran filled teams built around Bagwell, Biggio, and Clemens were gone, and the team's farm system consistently ranked near the bottom of the league according to evaluaters as well. Suffice it to say, having a crappy big league roster AND a barren farm system is not a recipe for winning baseball games anytime soon.

Under Luhnow, the organization committed to a truly radical rebuilding plan: They'd legitimately foresake any illusion of turning things around right away, and pursue a mutil-year rebuild with the knowledge that they'd be worse than bad for multiple years.

Now homegrown stars like Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, George Springer, and Marwin Gonzalez are all MVP candidates, Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers give them two bona fide front line pitchers, and the team retains the prospect depth to add additional pieces at the trade deadline as well as the financial reserves to be major players in the free agent market if they so choose.

Even back in 2015 they were able to add All-Star outfielder Carlos Gomez to their playoff contending team (Gomez didn't work out in Houston, but the point remains that they were able to make a major deadline deal to fill needs on their team).

Part two of this look at the Astros will run tomorrow here at #DMD.

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u.s. open preview – drew’s top ten

The U.S. Open golf championship starts on Thursday, June 15, at a place with no professional event history at all.

The site of this year’s tournament is Erin Hills GC in Wisconsin, a tricky, relatively unknown course that many have likened to another first timer from 2015, Chambers Bay.

The players, remember, either loved Chambers Bay or hated it.

Already a U.S. Open Champion, Rory McIlroy's health is his biggest concern heading into next week's event at Erin Hills.

It’s likely they’ll have the same split-decision on Erin Hills, which can tip out at roughly 7,800 yards if the USGA decides to punish the players by playing the course to its maximum length.

It’s likely they won’t do that, though. Officials say they’ll “only” play the course at 7,500-7,600 yards all week.

How nice of them, right?

#DMD will preview the U.S. Open and the predicted Top Ten between now and June 15, with the runner-up and winner revealed next Wednesday, June 14. Kevin Kisner was #10 on Monday, June 5 and Graeme McDowell was #9 on Tuesday.

At #8 is a no-brainer pick of sorts, but he hasn't played much of late due to a rib injury. Given the golf course and it's "Irish look", it's easy to fancy Rory McIlroy's chances. And I do.

There's no need to cite fancy stats about driving distance, accuracy, putting, etc. when it comes to McIlroy. He has all the goods and can win any tournament he enters.

The biggest question facing the 4-time major champion? Is he healthy enough to make the golf swings he'll need to make for four days?

I think the 5-week rest he's coming off of will be a huge benefit for him. Granted, his game might be a little rusty, but we're talking about Rory McIlroy here. He's one of the world's best players.

I expect he'll play well at Erin Hills next week. Don't be surprised if he's holding the trophy at the end of the tournament.


Tuesday
June 6
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXV
Issue 6
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sticking around for one more day
to keep the dream alive


My stay at The Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia got an unexpected one-day extension on Monday when rain forced the postponement of the U.S. Senior Open qualifier at the Lower Cascades course.

The qualifier will now be held today, Tuesday, June 6.

The Omni Homestead Resort

So here I sit, re-checked-in to this beautiful resort in the middle-of-freaking-nowhere and spending the day dodging rain drops, practicing, and getting in an afternoon round on “The Old Course” to try and stay sharp for tomorrow.

A dozen of the 63 contestants who were scheduled to play on Monday dropped out after rain canceled play. That leaves 51 of us competing for the two spots in the U.S. Senior Open field and the two alternate spots as well.

Upon learning Monday’s play was postponed, I immediately tried to figure out a way to convince myself this was somehow going to work in my favor come Tuesday.

The rain stopped around 2:00 pm on Tuesday but by then, the golf course had taken on 12 straight hours of steady precipitation. They made the right call to postpone, even though it’s a huge inconvenience for a lot of people, and the golf course, which is a mammoth revenue generator for The Homestead resort.

Sam Snead was a caddy at The Homestead and became its assistant pro at age 19. He later became the head professional at the nearby Greenbrier Resort. In 1983, at age 71, Snead shot 60 at The Homestead.

Bad weather has never bothered me. In fact, I was a little disappointed play got called off on Monday. I felt that might give me a small advantage. Alas, my buddy Dale Williams, who is here competing as well, called it right around 8:15 am when we were just finishing breakfast.

”We’re not playing today,” he predicted.

I hoped he was wrong. By 11:00 am, we found out he wasn’t.

In an odd kind of way, I like when things get unsettled like this. My feeling – unsubstantiated other than knowing the way competitive golfers are – is that a lot of guys were frustrated by today’s cancellation. Some packed it in and didn’t stay for Tuesday’s round, while others were probably bothered by the schedule nuisance a cancellation causes.

So Dale and I made the most of the day and got in plenty of practice along with an interesting chance meeting with an older woman in the hotel lobby.

She shared a story about a near-death experience she had five years ago in which she was able to see herself on a table below while she was in the upper corner of the hospital room, surrounded by her deceased family doctor and a lifelong friend, both of whom had passed away a decade earlier.

”It was such a peaceful feeling,” she told us. “I was just up there, and those two appeared to my left, and there I was looking down on myself, and everything was completely peaceful and serene.”

I thought for a minute I might make a joke about Orioles first baseman Chris Davis having a near-hit-experience recently, but I didn’t think she’d get it. Plus, when a stranger is telling you that she died and saw herself “down there on the table”, it’s probably inappropriate to throw a quip or two her way.

Paul Simson
Keith Decker

The field down at The Homestead is very strong. Paul Simson, one of the top senior amateurs in the world, let alone the U.S., is here vying for one of the Senior Open spots. So, too, is one of Virginia’s finest senior amateurs, Keith Decker, whom I’ll be playing with in Tuesday’s round.

Professionals John Ross and Ricky Touma are in the field, too. Ross was one of the two qualifiers back in 2015 when I was here attempting to qualify and Touma got in here in 2014.

I typically don’t think much about the score that will be needed before the event even tees off, but there’s a detailed history of the qualifiers held here and the scores usually hold true from year to year.

With only two spots available, it’s probably going to require something in the high 60’s. Even-par 70 has gotten in at The Homestead twice before, but I have a feeling that won’t be good enough this year.

No matter what happens on Tuesday, I know I prepared as well as I could for the qualifier. It always comes down to how you play on the day of the event. You can play great four days in a row coming in, but if you don’t play great on the day the scores count, none of that prior excellent play helps.

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why all the angst about
kaepernick’s unemployment?


I don’t understand why everyone is still up in arms about no NFL team signing back-up quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

This is still a story?

Kaepernick was apparently in talks with Seattle about signing on there and then somehow it didn’t happen and his name once again got flushed to the top of the sports news cycle.

KAEPERNICK’S CAMP FRUSTRATED WITH HIS STATUS – that was a headline I saw over the weekend, where someone connected with the former 49ers quarterback was bellyaching about his client still not having a job.

Here’s what I assume: Most teams already have their backup-quarterback situation figured out.

Colin Kaepernick

If they don’t have it figured out yet, perhaps they don’t want to pay Kaepernick the kind of money he wants to play second fiddle to someone for 16 weeks.

Or – and I know this isn’t popular – maybe they just don’t want to employ him for reasons they’ve kept private.

Here’s what I said back in February when this story first started percolating and I’m saying it again now, still.

If Kaepernick had first-string quarterback ability and was a “no brainer” signing for any team in need of a really good signal caller, he’d have a job.

That’s a fact. Teams don’t pass on really good quarterbacks when they’re available. Heck, they don’t even pass on good ones. If Joe Flacco, Andy Dalton and Philip Rivers were all suddenly free agents tomorrow at 12 noon, they’d be signed by someone in the NFL by 1 pm.

Colin Kaepernick has been a free agent since February and he can’t find a team.

It’s a shame he’s not good enough to warrant one of those automatic contracts for a coveted free agent, but he’s not.

And please don’t tell me this has nothing to do with his quality on the field and has everything to do with his decision to kneel during the national anthem in 2016.

If Tom Brady decided to kneel for the national anthem at the Patriots’ home opener next September, Robert Kraft and the New England front office wouldn’t say a word about it.

And even if they did broach the topic with Brady, they’d never let it affect their employment of the five-time Super Bowl champion quarterback.

As far as Kaepernick goes, I’ll assume there are teams out there who have passed on him that simply don’t want to deal with the collateral damage of national media scrutiny.

Last I checked, they have that right if they’re doing the hiring. I own a company – much, much smaller than the Patriots, of course – but I’m a business owner who makes hiring decisions. And I’ve interviewed plenty of people for positions over the last three years and decided they weren’t a good fit for my organization.

I didn’t have to share the reasons why/why not with anyone. I hire who I want to hire, just like NFL teams hire people they want working for them.

And no one needs to know why a team doesn’t want “Player A” or “Player B”. It’s their right to sign someone based on their needs. End of story.

If Kaepernick could still be a number-one quarterback in the league, he’d have a job for sure.

Now, as a back-up, his status is far less important to teams in need of someone to wear his hat backwards and keep in-game stats on a clipboard.

Someone will sign Kaepernick, eventually, but his play on the field will dictate whether that team ultimately made the right decision.

The only thing that matters is quarterbacking. Taking a knee doesn’t matter nearly as much as throwing touchdown passes.

KELLY banner ad

u.s. open preview – drew’s top ten

The U.S. Open golf championship starts on Thursday, June 15, at a place with no professional event history at all.

The site of this year’s tournament is Erin Hills GC in Wisconsin, a tricky, relatively unknown course that many have likened to another first timer from 2015, Chambers Bay.

The players, remember, either loved Chambers Bay or hated it.

It’s likely they’ll have the same split-decision on Erin Hills, which can tip out at roughly 7,800 yards if the USGA decides to punish the players by playing the course to its maximum length.

It’s likely they won’t do that, though. Officials say they’ll “only” play the course at 7,500-7,600 yards all week.

How nice of them, right?

#DMD will preview the U.S. Open and the predicted Top Ten between now and June 15, with the runner-up and winner revealed next Wednesday, June 14. Kevin Kisner was #10 on Monday, June 5.

At #9 is a guy with some links golf history, which might come in handy at Erin Hills. While it isn't specifically a "links only" layout, the look of it and the playability of the course both along the ground and in the air will give it that "linksy" feel.

Graeme McDowell

I'll make a lot of smart, safe picks from here on out because the same old suspects are always near the top of the leaderboard in major championships, but I am taking a real flyer with my #9 pick today.

I have a weird feeling Graeme McDowell is going to play well at Erin Hills next week.

He's not the player he was back in 2010 when he captured the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, but his form in 2017 hasn't been all that bad.

Granted, his world ranking has made him ineligible for some of the big World Golf Championship events, but he's made 10 of 12 cuts this season with four top-25 finishes.

I tend to think guys who previously won major titles are always capable of winning another, and I would put McDowell firmly in that class of player. And if he's to win another one, the U.S. Open at a links kind of golf course might very well be the place.

I don't think McDowell is winning, but I wouldn't be surprised at all to see him put together four good days of solid play and hang around the leaderboard all weekend.


serena vs. crosby finishes up first-round
action in our “ultimate winners” contest


First-round action in our "Ultimate Winners" bracket concludes today with a match-up between #4 seed Serena Williams and #13 seed Sidney Crosby.

Yesterday, #7 seed LeBron James easily disposed of #10 Roger Clemens. James had one of the more convincing first-round victories, 85% to 15%, as he moves on to the “Elite Eight”.

Today, one of the greatest female tennis-players in the modern era goes up against the NHL’s best player over the last decade.

You can find Serena Williams’ career information here.

You can find Sidney Crosby’s career information here.

Here’s the lineup of head-to-head battles in the second round, which will begin this Thursday, June 8.

Round Two
#1 Tiger Woods vs. #9 Jimmie Johnson
#5 Tom Brady vs. #4 Serena Williams
#15 Roger Federer vs. #10 LeBron James
#3 Michael Phelps vs. #11 Phil Mickelson

Now, on to voting for today’s match-up between Serena and Sidney.

Please remember the issue we have with the "voting form" you'll use. It's not particularly "eye friendly", as our operating system allows for a very specific sort of poll to be used and, unfortunately, we're quite restricted with how we use it.

So you'll see the voting box below has two names and an "x", "y" and "z". Our poll MUST have five and ONLY five voting options. I know, it's quirky. So you'll see Serena Williams and Sidney Crosby in the boxes below, plus x, y and z. You're obviously ONLY voting for either Williams or Crosby. It's time to vote. Who are you choosing: #4 seed Serena Williams or #13 seed Sidney Crosby?

 Drew's Morning Dish

#DMD Poll

Question: What is the Ravens biggest problem thus far in 2017?
Flacco and his QB play
Lack of receivers and playmakers
Key injuries
Offensive and defensive schemes
Harbaugh and his coaching
Name
Email address
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#dmd comments


DELRAY RICK     October 22
GEORGE---Its more like what are the odds "DRAMA QUEEN" can even make the first tee. Start reading the scores right.

George     October 22
Still waiting for an offer of odds against Tiger Woods winning the 2018 Masters. Don’t need anyone speculating whether I’m a fanboy or sycophant or other irrelevant drivel, nor a reminder that the cops took a mugshot of him like they do of every chump who gets locked up for drunk driving. I’m looking for a financial transaction on a sports proposition. If you think Tiger won’t win the Masters, and have the financial courage of your convictions, quote the odds you offer.

Steve in Hunt Valley     October 21
BJ, the passive-aggressive thing looks good and you play it off well but you never actually write a complimentary word about DMD or the stories. You'll write something vague and play it off a compliment when you're questioned on it but I read your comments and shake my head all the time. You obviously have a personal axe to grind with either Drew or the writers. It comes across loud and clear. But I'm sure Drew appreciates the fact that you visit.

H     October 21
After seeing who the Ravens have on IR and who is currently on the injured list, I am amazed that the Ravens are 3-3.

BJ     October 21
@TG Since you're not trying to pick a fight....I said "I consider #DMD a notch above the 4 letter network". I read #DMD most every day, never read any of the "content" on ESPN. Point being ESPN fawns all over this Ball guy (judging by the headlines I see), I come here to avoid that prattle. But it's ok, CJ/PGAV/MONK needs someone to take some of the heat of off him/them ;)

That Guy     October 21
@BJ, you'd have to point out the "compliment" in your OP. I don't see one. Not trying to pick a fight here with you but you do come across as a DMD hater.

BJ     October 21
@Aaron If you could read and comprehend, that was a compliment. If I was just a hater, I'd not be surprised to read about this Ball guy right?

SOD is tough, some of the same guys saying Pees should shut up and be able to handle criticism without lashing out, are the first to bash anyone who dare post even the mildest of "criticism" out here. Interesting

Aaron     October 21
Been coming here for a year now and still can't ever remember "BJ" writing one complimentary word about the site. Always have to wonder why he/she visits. Must be a plant from the old station, just piling on the hate.

BJ     October 21
No idea if the Lakers won or lost last night, but that seems like it'd be easy to look up?

As for being Ball'd out, whose fault is that? Certainly not the goofy Dad, he can't cover himself. Yup, it's those idiot media types flocking to sh*t like flies. Mentioning his name here is puzzling. Who in Baltimore cares about this clown show? Call me crazy, but I consider #DMD a notch above the four letter network and am disappointed this "story" is being covered at all. All things considered, I'd rather see more video of Tiger practicing in his backyard.

BTW, Holland is as bad , if not worse, than Miley. If CC were cheap, he might be decent space filler (pun intended), but I agree with @Brian M, they need to get younger, not older

unitastoberry     October 21
A one year rental on 37 years old CC is right up the Angelos style I would agree with that. But I think they need a miracle or a new owner to ever win the championship again.

DELRAY RICK     October 21
FAKE NEWS ON THIS SITE. Who ever wrote the LAKERS lost last is WROOONG! What a DUMMIE!

Brian M.     October 21
Drew,

Sorry but I do not want Sabathia here and not because he's a Yankee but in the December of his career and we need youth.

Dave W.     October 20
Not a Tiger fan but I agree with Al. Tiger's mug shot doesn't parallel with his attempted comeback IMHO.

Tom     October 20
@Al, You must be new in these parts. Herman has a very clear disdain for people like Tiger, if you know what I mean.

AL     October 20
I'm still not sure what Tiger's mug shot has to do with his golf game. I see people saying they don't like Tiger and that he's a bad guy but I don't know how that connects to his golf game.

DELRAY RICK     October 20
HERMAN----RIGHT ON BOUT PHONY "DRAMA QUEEN" every month he lets the die-hards know , "i am still around". He will embarrass himself just like the mug shot. He's been on drugs for years and the PGA is really on drug testing this year. Hope he gets caught AGAIN.

clayton     October 20
AL------ I think the term role model has been consigned to the dustbin of history as a quaint and outmoded concept. It has been replaced by “brand,” where the currency among athletes is the ability to get your fans to buy the crap that is identified with you. In case of an unfortunate arrest, there are plenty of spin doctors out there who, for a large fee, will tell the public what to think, and they are very good at what they do.

AL     October 20
What does Tiger's mug shot have to do with his golf game? Half the NFL has a mug shot. Doesn't seem to bother them.

HERMAN     October 20
I'm amazed how quickly the Tiger sycophants climb back onto the bandwagon. Look, he's changed his swing, it's easier on the body, he's coming back, he's coming back! He can play again, oh joy!

Did they forget that mug shot that fast?

Tiger manipulates his public better than anyone. The fanboys jump for joy, articles about how he might now be a contender next April amongst the azaleas, forget that only 10% of majors have been won by golfers past 40.

And apparently, forgetting that awful mug shot.

Steve from Pimlico     October 20
Don't say coaching doesn't matter .Look at the Rams with an offensive minded coach. Goff,called a bust last year,now looks like a rising young star .


Tom J     October 20
I finally figured it out.....after hearing the M and T commercial for the millionth time, The Ravens need to tell Joe that he's going shopping with his Ravens debit card at 1pm on Sundays as that generates way more excitement and passion from him than we ever see on the football field.....also, I'm glad I left my seat Sunday so I didn't have to see that pathetic defensive effort from Loudmouth Pees defense. He's clueless. Way to endear yourself to the fans even further coach. First, the players commenting about the fans, now the coaches.......clueless

Brien Jackson     October 19
The "opinionated players" story has been debunked over and over and was only ever a story that was pushed by Preston and Youness. And no one has ever claimed Ozzie doesn't retain control of roster moves. Ever.

the other that guy     October 19
@Kevin Yeah, cause nothing guarantees a good football team more than some "strongly opinionated players" lol.

And as for leadership "on and off the field", I read everywhere what a great "leader" Eric Weddle is, but he can;t tackle fer crap.

DR (the original)     October 19
Can't agree with everything you said there, Brien.

Todd Heap and Dennis Pitta were excellent players, in each case the security blankets for QBs who didn't have great WRs. Ed Dickson is still a starting player in the NFL. A little too early to totally diss Maxx Williams, no?

I'd argue that Anquan Boldin was a pretty good goal line target. Remember the AFC Championship Game? Yes, he came from somewhere else. Not disputing our poor WR draft choices.

Kevin     October 19
Brien-

The head coach has been largely to blame for the makeup of the roster, changing the attitude, style and leadership both on the field and off. The changes in the types of players in recent "Ozzie's" drafts notably changed with the appearance of the new coach as well. The Ravens have drafted non-strongly opinionated players and great special teamers who cannot reach the level of play that game changers can. Those game changers do not fit the mold of the Harbaugh era, except to win a Super Bowl.

HERMAN     October 19
I didn't know fruit could speak or vote.

MOE     October 19
@Jake Swallowed up?? How so?? The video is still there, as are Drew's insightful comments. Everyone can still go watch and hear for themselves (and enjoy), how does anything in the comments section distract from that, much less "swallow it up"?

I'm thinking people criticize Brien cause his writing is horrible and they wish we had more David and George, and less Brien and Todd. That and the fact Brien overwhelms the comments sections at times with his overzealous attempts to make sense out of his nonsense.

Brien Jackson     October 19
http://lmgtfy.com/?q=Hyperbole+definition

Jake     October 19
It's a shame Drew's outstanding video analysis of Tiger gets swallowed up by all of the Brien bashing. I don't understand why people feel the need to constantly criticize him.

Curly     October 19
Just Another Guy Did you notice they were “different” articles, so he didn’t just read one article thirty-six times, or three articles twelve times each. Syllables, man. The more you can put in your sentences the more authoritative you sound.

just another guy     October 19
“I must have read 3 dozen different articles demanding a new offensive coordinator already this season.”



So what Brien is saying is, there were at least 36 “journalists” out there “demanding” Harbs dump Marty? Call me a skeptic, but I find it hard to believe 36 reporters would a) care enough about the situation to write an article and b) saying “The Ravens should hire a new OC right now” is NOT the same as “demanding”. Why would any reporter, even a local beat writer, “demand” anything?

Unless by “articles” Brien means, I don’t know, facebook posts? Tweets?

This encapsulates very nicely the style and quality we get from this guy. I try to read his stuff because, sometimes, if you read between the oh so many lines, he might make an interesting point, but it gets harder and harder to ignore stuff like the sentence above. Why not just say “some have said” and leave it at that??

And the point is not about grammar, it’s about not throwing crap out there that is clearly not true. Pretty ironic, cause that’s the same issue that guy Brien loves to hate has, and gets ripped for, by the likes of Brien and the other serial fabricator, the Little Fella (you know, the tweeter in chief). This is a common practice by people with zero credibility trying to pretend they have some (and interesting that Brien throws that same accusation at people who “watch film”, yet he does exact same thing).

And yes I know, the core audience does not care, I’ll get shouted down as a hater. After all, this is the blog equivalent of talk radio, why be so picky, right?


Fact Check     October 19
The "expert" is wrong again. He slams folks who say they watch the ALL 22, yet can't refute any of the observations directly.



But for all of the lousy writing and having "Fact Check" fact check his dubious credentials. I've found NO articles with is by-line on NPR, ESPN nor CBS sports, they only 2 things I've found is grass cutter and some writing on some 8th rate website.

Expert???? Micheal Clayton instead of Mark Clayton?? I guess he has urges for George Clooney.



Way out of his depth. Went to the LF school of "good" writing. Just shout a lot and call yourself an expert. Ozzie has 2 Super Bowl rings. If the "expert" would have been running the Ravens? Every single year they would win it all.


Tom J     October 19
Well, I can finally agree with Brien on one thing, Ozzie is a huge part of the Ravens problems. I've been saying this to people for years but no one ever wants to call him out because he seems to get a hall pass for the 96 draft. Yes, he has drafted some incredible players but when was the last great draft? They've had one Pro Bowler from the first 3 rounds since around 08. And to all of the Flacco supporters, read the article in The Sun where his pears voted him the third most overrated QB in the NFL. It's one thing when the "know nothing fans' say this but when you pears speak, that says volumes.

James - Dundalk     October 19
@ STEVE FROM PIMLICO, Remember Ramon Harewood the "O" line guy Ozzie picked at 194. Guess who was picked at 195. Antonio Brown

Bill     October 19
Thanks for the Tiger Woods swing insight Drew. Interesting to say the least. I can definitely see on the last video with the red shirt where, as you say, he's standing taller and not nearly as hunched over as in the 2011 video. I don't know much about the swing but I would assume the 2017 version is putting less stress on his back.

Mike from Reisterstown     October 18
@ ANDYMTH3 sounds like Bob From Parkville in reverse.

Brien Jackson     October 18
@Chris K



I'm 99% sure that Machado isn't even on the Yankees' radar. Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar excelled at Double-A this year and figure to move to 3b/2b. They might be in on Harper since Gardner's getting older (Clint Frazier is their CF'er of the future btw), but like Drew said it's pitching that they really need. In the rotation AND in the bullpen as well.

Tom     October 18
I can make this argument easy.



Popovich is definitely crazy. Ask anyone.



Trump is definitely crazy. Ask anyone.



I don't have a dog in either hunt and I can vouch for both statements. Both of them are nuts.

James     October 18
@Herman. Nicely played sir. Funny stuff.

That Guy     October 18
@Andysmyth3,



I'm not picking on you independently. I see this a lot on internet forums everywhere when someone takes exception with a writer, author, blogger, etc.



I find it funny in a weird way. I wonder if you even know you wrote it.



You wrote: "You somehow can say whatever you want because you are a nobody who nobody really cares what you think."



You're clearly pointing out that you believe the writer is a "nobody" and "nobody really cares what you think."



That's fair and it's your right to make that observation.



If you don't care what he thinks why did you take the time to even respond?



I see that sort of thing a lot and it makes me laugh.



BTW, Popovich is kind of crazy. I think you'd even admit that if you weren't so mad about Drew calling him crazy.

HERMAN     October 18
@Andymth3



Gregg Popovich got where he is due to his white privilege. Didn't you hear Obama? "you didn't build that"!

He should immediately resign his position as he is taking the job of a more well deserving minority who didn't get their job through white privilege. It is almost criminal that he is a white man lording over a black majority team in a black majority league. All due to white privilege.

I call on Gregg Popovich to immediately resign his position, give it to a more deserving minority being held down because Gregg holds the job that the minority deserves more, and further, to contribute the salary he didn't earn to BLM.

Championships? Popovich didn't earn those, it was on the backs of minorities. He should return all his hardware, and resign, allowing for a minority to move up, and apologize for all his white privilege.

interested thrid party     October 18
@Andymth3 Nice post. You must be new, the meat of this site is low brow humor and spitballing, how dare you pay attention to the written word! Be prepared for some lambasting from the SOD. But some of us appreciate well thought responses such as yours.

Andymth3     October 18
Gregg Popovich "crazy"? We all should be so crazy. This is a man that graduated from the Air Force Academy, served his country in the armed forces, in intelligence no less, has been one of the greatest basketball coaches in history winning 5 NBA championships, but he is crazy? Why? Because he had the temerity to call the president what he is, a "soulless coward"? Because he speaks forcefully and eloquently about race, and injustice, and inequity? You're right with your I only graduated from Glen Burnie High School schtick. You are way out of your league taking shots at him. I get it, he is a liberal and you are a conservative, you do not agree politically, but that does not make him crazy. I have read your obligatory free speech references, which I am not sure if you actually believe, but here is someone exercising his right to free speech, and he is doing it an a way that does not interfere with games, or national anthems, or your other precious forums, and yet he is crazy because he expressing his opinion. Is this what America has come to now? You somehow can say whatever you want because you are a nobody who nobody really cares what you think, but when an NBA coach actually says something that you do not agree with, how dare he? It is easy to be patriotic and American when everybody agrees with you, but heaven forbid they have a different point of view, them clearly they are crazy. I thought you were smarter and more broad minded than that. I guess I was wrong. I must be crazy.

DELRAY RICK     October 18
Just heard on the radio HILLARY IN LONDON says it is OK to knee for anthem. She will go opposite of TRUMP no matter what. THATS IT! You now can stand on your head if you want. What bunch of crap.

George     October 18
What odds am I offered against Tiger winning the Masters next year? I wish to put my money where my mouth is.

Brendan     October 18
One theory is that Anderson was not let go because of the other Atheltic Directors that have been fired related to the FBI investigation at other schools. Maryland is free and clear of that landmine, but had Anderson been let go at the same time as those others, accusations would be made. I think it is as simple as Loh does not like him and fundraising issues. But he is getting 6 months paid for the move to the Big Ten, which went well.

JohnInEssex     October 18
THANKS Drew for the write up on the MD AD situation. Good stuff!



Watched the Dodgers/Cubs last night - I laughed hysterically to myself as I watched the Cubs pitcher walk the Dodger pitcher on 4 straight balls with the bases loaded. The batter was doing the old fake a bunt and lean out over the plate thing that we all did in Little League, and it worked! During that at bat, the catcher talked to the pitcher twice and the pitching coach came out once. The color commentator (Ron Darling?) was spot on saying all this talking to the pitcher about pitching to the pitcher was just making matters worse for the Cubs pitcher. He also said there is a difference between pitching in the regular season compared to pitching in the playoffs. The sweet Cubbie fans rained down a thunderstorm of BOOS for their pitcher at the end of the inning.



Earlier in the game, the leadoff guy for the Dodgers (Taylor?) managed to get a triple on a ball hit down the third base line. Don't recall ever seeing that happen.

HERMAN     October 18
@robintowson makes a great point, Korea is golf crazy and starved for a sanctioned event. In addition to the purse I'd like to see the "guarantees" paid out to top players in appearance fees and other opportunities there where they can make a killing. Firms there would easily pay a top player a half million to play with the CEO and attend the big company dinner.

Leadership of the tour should be applauded for what they have done with the schedule. The various "runs" make total sense, opening in Hawaii, a run through California, off to Florida, and so on. This three week Asian run is genius.


Steve from Pimlico     October 18
If the Ravens had an Antonio Brown and a Leveon Bell,Joe would be more than adequate at QB.

Look what he did with Ray Rice and Anquan Bolding.

The modern game of football has passed Ozzie by ,sadly.Three of his beloved Alabama picks Cody ,Upshaw and now Williams have hardly been impactful players.

The QB positions new young stars all have mobility which forces defenses to account for their escapability.

James - Dundalk     October 18
@ Pratt. I always admired the knowledge of Phil Savage when he was director of college scouting. Since he left for the Cleveland GM years ago it IMO our college scouting has dropped off. I've stated before our Undrafted player seem to make more impact then the drafted ones.

Monday
June 5
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Issue 5
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o’s squander big chance
to get back on track


After winning two of three vs. the Yankees and opening a 4-game series with Boston by beating them twice, it was time for the Orioles to get greedy.

A win or two over the weekend would be the beginning of a nice run from the Orioles.

Instead, the Birds lost on Saturday, 5-2, and again on Sunday, 7-3, as Boston got consecutive good performances from their top two pitchers.

So much for enjoying prosperity.

Saturday night’s loss featured a puzzling decision from Buck Showalter, who went with Ubaldo Jimenez in the 8th inning of a game the O’s trailed 2-1. Jimenez predictably gave up a couple of runs that widened the margin to 4-1 and that was all she wrote.

I’m not a baseball manager. I’m just a guy who knows the roster, watches the games, and armchair-quarterbacks like everyone else in town.

Why would you put Jimenez into a 2-1 game, particularly one against your division rivals?

In my view, Jimenez is used in two situations. He either goes in when you’re winning 9-1 in the 7th inning or he goes in when you’re losing 9-1 in the 4th inning. Oh, and if you have a 14-inning game and you throw him in there because you don’t have anyone else, I guess that’s OK.

So, make that three situations where it’s acceptable to use Jimenez.

You don’t use him in a 2-1 game, that’s for sure.

I’m not saying the O’s are 29-26 because Buck has lost his touch, but the month of May wasn’t a good one for the skipper. And here we are early on in June and he’s already getting blasted for again going with Jimenez in a tight situation.

I know lots of folks are down on Jimenez and with good reason. He’s just not very good anymore. But I’ll keep saying this over and over: Ubaldo doesn’t put himself in the game(s). Showalter puts him in there. And the only reason Showalter has the option of pitching him is because Dan Duquette hasn’t replaced him.

With Chris Sale set to go yesterday, that made the Saturday game even more critical.

And it made the Jimenez decision even more remarkably ill-timed.

Sale gave up three first-inning runs yesterday and then settled down to shut out the Birds from there.

And that inspired start to the series after the Thursday and Friday wins fizzled out quickly over the weekend as Boston claimed the last two games.

If Showalter and Jimenez co-claimed goat honors in Saturday night’s loss, back-up catch Francisco Pena claimed the award all by himself on Sunday afternoon.

With the game tied at 3-3 in the top of the 6th, Pena tried to pick-off Mitch Moreland at 3rd base and the throw sailed down the left field line, allowing two runs to score. Game, set, match.

The Baltimore offense didn’t help much on Sunday, but Pena’s error was a game-changer. The Red Sox scored two more runs to finalize the scoring at 7-3 and climb 1.5 games ahead of the O’s in the battle for second place in the A.L. East.

Failing to get a hit on Saturday or Sunday, Adam Jones saw his batting average dip to .252 for the season.

Speaking of those Oriole bats, they generated just five runs in the two weekend games. “The Big Four” (Jones, Machado, Trumbo, Davis) went 6-for-30, with Jones failing to register a hit and striking out four times in the two games.

It’s tough to win when your four best hitters hit .200 over 18 innings of play.

Therein lies the biggest issue with the Orioles at the 55-game mark of the season.

They rarely, if ever, combine a good offensive night with a good night of starting pitching.

Why not? I have no idea. But it just doesn’t happen much. They either muster six hits in a 4-2 loss or they rattle off twelve hits and take a 4-1 lead before the starter falls apart en route to a 9-5 defeat.

It reminds me a lot of golf, actually. There are days when you drive it great, hit your irons well and then look like a 15-handicap with the putter in your hands. The very next day, you can’t hit a fairway, but the putter comes alive and you scramble your way to a respectable round.

That’s what happens with the O’s all time. They get a decent offensive night, but they can’t pitch worth a hoot. Or, they finally get a starter to take them into the 7th inning and they can’t score any runs.

Yes, it’s still plenty early in the season. They’re 29-26, which essentially says the Orioles are a .500 team. But a couple of five-game winning streaks here and there and suddenly the Birds have won 10-of-13 and they’re right back in there fighting with the Yankees for first place in the East.

Somehow, they have to start marrying decent offensive performances with better-than-average starting pitching efforts.

And they need to keep Jimenez in the bullpen and out of the limelight. He’s not helping anyone win, unless it’s a rare spot start against a National League team, where he seems to always know what he’s doing.

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u.s. open preview – drew’s top ten


The U.S. Open golf championship starts on Thursday, June 15, at a place with no professional event history at all.

The site of this year’s tournament is Erin Hills GC in Wisconsin, a tricky, relatively unknown course that many have likened to another first timer from 2015, Chambers Bay.

The players, remember, either loved Chambers Bay or hated it.

It’s likely they’ll have the same split-decision on Erin Hills, which can tip out at roughly 7,800 yards if the USGA decides to punish the players by playing the course to its maximum length.

It’s likely they won’t do that, though. Officials say they’ll “only” play the course at 7,500-7,600 yards all week.

How nice of them, right?

The 2011 U.S. Amateur was played at Erin Hills, but that’s really the only competitive event worth noting that’s ever been played on the golf course. So, what’s that mean for the guys teeing it up at this year’s U.S. Open?

It means any of 20-25 guys truly have a chance to win.

#DMD will preview the U.S. Open and the predicted Top Ten between now and June 15, with the runner-up and winner revealed next Wednesday, June 14.

#10 – Kevin Kisner – Kisner is a quality player who rides his hot streaks, and right now, he’s on a heater.

Kisner won at Colonial last week, then shot 8-under par and finished 6th this past weekend at The Memorial. The field he faced at Muirfield Village was about 90% of what he’d find at a major championship.

Kevin Kisner has the game to win a major, and the U.S. Open might be the best fit for his plodding, grinding style.

He doesn’t hit it very far, ranking 140th on TOUR in driving distance (286 yards), but his tee ball usually finds the fairway, which is incredibly important in the U.S. Open. If he can match his regular season fairway accuracy percentage (67%) next week at Erin Hills, Kisner has a chance.

Players who don’t hit it far – particularly in the U.S. Open or PGA, where the courses are stretched out – have to hit the fairway to help balance out their lack of length.

”Short off the tee” isn’t a big deal if it’s in the short grass. Lack of distance and in the rough? That’s bad news.

Kisner is a reliable putter, as evidenced by a pair of runner-up finishes this year (Bay Hill and New Orleans) and his win last week, where he had to make a 5-footer at the 18th hole to clinch the win.

He’s a lot like Jordan Spieth in style and approach, just not quite the wizard with the flat stick like the two-time major champion.

I like Kisner’s chances next week at Erin Hills if he drives it straight. That’s the key element of the tournament for him.

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it’s lebron vs. clemens in today’s
“ultimate winners” match-up


First-round action in our "Ultimate Winners" bracket contest continues today with an interesting match-up between NBA superstar LeBron James and 7-time Cy Young award winner Roger Clemens.

James is a remarkable performer and his career is far from finished. He already has three championship rings and will certainly win more of them before his run ends.

Clemens won two titles (1999 and 2000) with the Yankees.

This is a really good first-round match-up. It’s a shame one of these two has to lose today.

You can find LeBron James’ career information here.

You can find Roger Clemens’ career information here.

Friday, in case you missed it, we had our first major upset of the “Ultimate Winners” contest as #15 seed Roger Federer defeated #2 seed Michael Jordan by ONE vote.

Yes, that’s true. When all the votes were tabulated, one vote was the difference for Federer.

Please remember the issue we have with the "voting form" you'll use. It's not particularly "eye friendly", as our operating system allows for a very specific sort of poll to be used and, unfortunately, we're quite restricted with how we use it. This is WAY beyond my pay grade. I turn these sorts of things over to my good buddy George McDowell. He's the brains behind this whole operation.

So, you'll see the voting box below has two names and an "x", "y" and "z". Our poll MUST have five and ONLY five voting options. I know, it's quirky. So, you'll see LeBron James and Roger Clemens in the box below, plus x, y and z. You're obviously ONLY voting for either James or Clemens. It's time to vote. Who are you choosing? The #7 seed LeBron James? Or the #10 seed Roger Clemens?

 Drew's Morning Dish

#DMD Poll

Question: What is the Ravens biggest problem thus far in 2017?
Flacco and his QB play
Lack of receivers and playmakers
Key injuries
Offensive and defensive schemes
Harbaugh and his coaching
Name
Email address
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#dmd comments


DELRAY RICK     October 22
GEORGE---Its more like what are the odds "DRAMA QUEEN" can even make the first tee. Start reading the scores right.

George     October 22
Still waiting for an offer of odds against Tiger Woods winning the 2018 Masters. Don’t need anyone speculating whether I’m a fanboy or sycophant or other irrelevant drivel, nor a reminder that the cops took a mugshot of him like they do of every chump who gets locked up for drunk driving. I’m looking for a financial transaction on a sports proposition. If you think Tiger won’t win the Masters, and have the financial courage of your convictions, quote the odds you offer.

Steve in Hunt Valley     October 21
BJ, the passive-aggressive thing looks good and you play it off well but you never actually write a complimentary word about DMD or the stories. You'll write something vague and play it off a compliment when you're questioned on it but I read your comments and shake my head all the time. You obviously have a personal axe to grind with either Drew or the writers. It comes across loud and clear. But I'm sure Drew appreciates the fact that you visit.

H     October 21
After seeing who the Ravens have on IR and who is currently on the injured list, I am amazed that the Ravens are 3-3.

BJ     October 21
@TG Since you're not trying to pick a fight....I said "I consider #DMD a notch above the 4 letter network". I read #DMD most every day, never read any of the "content" on ESPN. Point being ESPN fawns all over this Ball guy (judging by the headlines I see), I come here to avoid that prattle. But it's ok, CJ/PGAV/MONK needs someone to take some of the heat of off him/them ;)

That Guy     October 21
@BJ, you'd have to point out the "compliment" in your OP. I don't see one. Not trying to pick a fight here with you but you do come across as a DMD hater.

BJ     October 21
@Aaron If you could read and comprehend, that was a compliment. If I was just a hater, I'd not be surprised to read about this Ball guy right?

SOD is tough, some of the same guys saying Pees should shut up and be able to handle criticism without lashing out, are the first to bash anyone who dare post even the mildest of "criticism" out here. Interesting

Aaron     October 21
Been coming here for a year now and still can't ever remember "BJ" writing one complimentary word about the site. Always have to wonder why he/she visits. Must be a plant from the old station, just piling on the hate.

BJ     October 21
No idea if the Lakers won or lost last night, but that seems like it'd be easy to look up?

As for being Ball'd out, whose fault is that? Certainly not the goofy Dad, he can't cover himself. Yup, it's those idiot media types flocking to sh*t like flies. Mentioning his name here is puzzling. Who in Baltimore cares about this clown show? Call me crazy, but I consider #DMD a notch above the four letter network and am disappointed this "story" is being covered at all. All things considered, I'd rather see more video of Tiger practicing in his backyard.

BTW, Holland is as bad , if not worse, than Miley. If CC were cheap, he might be decent space filler (pun intended), but I agree with @Brian M, they need to get younger, not older

unitastoberry     October 21
A one year rental on 37 years old CC is right up the Angelos style I would agree with that. But I think they need a miracle or a new owner to ever win the championship again.

DELRAY RICK     October 21
FAKE NEWS ON THIS SITE. Who ever wrote the LAKERS lost last is WROOONG! What a DUMMIE!

Brian M.     October 21
Drew,

Sorry but I do not want Sabathia here and not because he's a Yankee but in the December of his career and we need youth.

Dave W.     October 20
Not a Tiger fan but I agree with Al. Tiger's mug shot doesn't parallel with his attempted comeback IMHO.

Tom     October 20
@Al, You must be new in these parts. Herman has a very clear disdain for people like Tiger, if you know what I mean.

AL     October 20
I'm still not sure what Tiger's mug shot has to do with his golf game. I see people saying they don't like Tiger and that he's a bad guy but I don't know how that connects to his golf game.

DELRAY RICK     October 20
HERMAN----RIGHT ON BOUT PHONY "DRAMA QUEEN" every month he lets the die-hards know , "i am still around". He will embarrass himself just like the mug shot. He's been on drugs for years and the PGA is really on drug testing this year. Hope he gets caught AGAIN.

clayton     October 20
AL------ I think the term role model has been consigned to the dustbin of history as a quaint and outmoded concept. It has been replaced by “brand,” where the currency among athletes is the ability to get your fans to buy the crap that is identified with you. In case of an unfortunate arrest, there are plenty of spin doctors out there who, for a large fee, will tell the public what to think, and they are very good at what they do.

AL     October 20
What does Tiger's mug shot have to do with his golf game? Half the NFL has a mug shot. Doesn't seem to bother them.

HERMAN     October 20
I'm amazed how quickly the Tiger sycophants climb back onto the bandwagon. Look, he's changed his swing, it's easier on the body, he's coming back, he's coming back! He can play again, oh joy!

Did they forget that mug shot that fast?

Tiger manipulates his public better than anyone. The fanboys jump for joy, articles about how he might now be a contender next April amongst the azaleas, forget that only 10% of majors have been won by golfers past 40.

And apparently, forgetting that awful mug shot.

Steve from Pimlico     October 20
Don't say coaching doesn't matter .Look at the Rams with an offensive minded coach. Goff,called a bust last year,now looks like a rising young star .


Tom J     October 20
I finally figured it out.....after hearing the M and T commercial for the millionth time, The Ravens need to tell Joe that he's going shopping with his Ravens debit card at 1pm on Sundays as that generates way more excitement and passion from him than we ever see on the football field.....also, I'm glad I left my seat Sunday so I didn't have to see that pathetic defensive effort from Loudmouth Pees defense. He's clueless. Way to endear yourself to the fans even further coach. First, the players commenting about the fans, now the coaches.......clueless

Brien Jackson     October 19
The "opinionated players" story has been debunked over and over and was only ever a story that was pushed by Preston and Youness. And no one has ever claimed Ozzie doesn't retain control of roster moves. Ever.

the other that guy     October 19
@Kevin Yeah, cause nothing guarantees a good football team more than some "strongly opinionated players" lol.

And as for leadership "on and off the field", I read everywhere what a great "leader" Eric Weddle is, but he can;t tackle fer crap.

DR (the original)     October 19
Can't agree with everything you said there, Brien.

Todd Heap and Dennis Pitta were excellent players, in each case the security blankets for QBs who didn't have great WRs. Ed Dickson is still a starting player in the NFL. A little too early to totally diss Maxx Williams, no?

I'd argue that Anquan Boldin was a pretty good goal line target. Remember the AFC Championship Game? Yes, he came from somewhere else. Not disputing our poor WR draft choices.

Kevin     October 19
Brien-

The head coach has been largely to blame for the makeup of the roster, changing the attitude, style and leadership both on the field and off. The changes in the types of players in recent "Ozzie's" drafts notably changed with the appearance of the new coach as well. The Ravens have drafted non-strongly opinionated players and great special teamers who cannot reach the level of play that game changers can. Those game changers do not fit the mold of the Harbaugh era, except to win a Super Bowl.

HERMAN     October 19
I didn't know fruit could speak or vote.

MOE     October 19
@Jake Swallowed up?? How so?? The video is still there, as are Drew's insightful comments. Everyone can still go watch and hear for themselves (and enjoy), how does anything in the comments section distract from that, much less "swallow it up"?

I'm thinking people criticize Brien cause his writing is horrible and they wish we had more David and George, and less Brien and Todd. That and the fact Brien overwhelms the comments sections at times with his overzealous attempts to make sense out of his nonsense.

Brien Jackson     October 19
http://lmgtfy.com/?q=Hyperbole+definition

Jake     October 19
It's a shame Drew's outstanding video analysis of Tiger gets swallowed up by all of the Brien bashing. I don't understand why people feel the need to constantly criticize him.

Curly     October 19
Just Another Guy Did you notice they were “different” articles, so he didn’t just read one article thirty-six times, or three articles twelve times each. Syllables, man. The more you can put in your sentences the more authoritative you sound.

just another guy     October 19
“I must have read 3 dozen different articles demanding a new offensive coordinator already this season.”



So what Brien is saying is, there were at least 36 “journalists” out there “demanding” Harbs dump Marty? Call me a skeptic, but I find it hard to believe 36 reporters would a) care enough about the situation to write an article and b) saying “The Ravens should hire a new OC right now” is NOT the same as “demanding”. Why would any reporter, even a local beat writer, “demand” anything?

Unless by “articles” Brien means, I don’t know, facebook posts? Tweets?

This encapsulates very nicely the style and quality we get from this guy. I try to read his stuff because, sometimes, if you read between the oh so many lines, he might make an interesting point, but it gets harder and harder to ignore stuff like the sentence above. Why not just say “some have said” and leave it at that??

And the point is not about grammar, it’s about not throwing crap out there that is clearly not true. Pretty ironic, cause that’s the same issue that guy Brien loves to hate has, and gets ripped for, by the likes of Brien and the other serial fabricator, the Little Fella (you know, the tweeter in chief). This is a common practice by people with zero credibility trying to pretend they have some (and interesting that Brien throws that same accusation at people who “watch film”, yet he does exact same thing).

And yes I know, the core audience does not care, I’ll get shouted down as a hater. After all, this is the blog equivalent of talk radio, why be so picky, right?


Fact Check     October 19
The "expert" is wrong again. He slams folks who say they watch the ALL 22, yet can't refute any of the observations directly.



But for all of the lousy writing and having "Fact Check" fact check his dubious credentials. I've found NO articles with is by-line on NPR, ESPN nor CBS sports, they only 2 things I've found is grass cutter and some writing on some 8th rate website.

Expert???? Micheal Clayton instead of Mark Clayton?? I guess he has urges for George Clooney.



Way out of his depth. Went to the LF school of "good" writing. Just shout a lot and call yourself an expert. Ozzie has 2 Super Bowl rings. If the "expert" would have been running the Ravens? Every single year they would win it all.


Tom J     October 19
Well, I can finally agree with Brien on one thing, Ozzie is a huge part of the Ravens problems. I've been saying this to people for years but no one ever wants to call him out because he seems to get a hall pass for the 96 draft. Yes, he has drafted some incredible players but when was the last great draft? They've had one Pro Bowler from the first 3 rounds since around 08. And to all of the Flacco supporters, read the article in The Sun where his pears voted him the third most overrated QB in the NFL. It's one thing when the "know nothing fans' say this but when you pears speak, that says volumes.

James - Dundalk     October 19
@ STEVE FROM PIMLICO, Remember Ramon Harewood the "O" line guy Ozzie picked at 194. Guess who was picked at 195. Antonio Brown

Bill     October 19
Thanks for the Tiger Woods swing insight Drew. Interesting to say the least. I can definitely see on the last video with the red shirt where, as you say, he's standing taller and not nearly as hunched over as in the 2011 video. I don't know much about the swing but I would assume the 2017 version is putting less stress on his back.

Mike from Reisterstown     October 18
@ ANDYMTH3 sounds like Bob From Parkville in reverse.

Brien Jackson     October 18
@Chris K



I'm 99% sure that Machado isn't even on the Yankees' radar. Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar excelled at Double-A this year and figure to move to 3b/2b. They might be in on Harper since Gardner's getting older (Clint Frazier is their CF'er of the future btw), but like Drew said it's pitching that they really need. In the rotation AND in the bullpen as well.

Tom     October 18
I can make this argument easy.



Popovich is definitely crazy. Ask anyone.



Trump is definitely crazy. Ask anyone.



I don't have a dog in either hunt and I can vouch for both statements. Both of them are nuts.

James     October 18
@Herman. Nicely played sir. Funny stuff.

That Guy     October 18
@Andysmyth3,



I'm not picking on you independently. I see this a lot on internet forums everywhere when someone takes exception with a writer, author, blogger, etc.



I find it funny in a weird way. I wonder if you even know you wrote it.



You wrote: "You somehow can say whatever you want because you are a nobody who nobody really cares what you think."



You're clearly pointing out that you believe the writer is a "nobody" and "nobody really cares what you think."



That's fair and it's your right to make that observation.



If you don't care what he thinks why did you take the time to even respond?



I see that sort of thing a lot and it makes me laugh.



BTW, Popovich is kind of crazy. I think you'd even admit that if you weren't so mad about Drew calling him crazy.

HERMAN     October 18
@Andymth3



Gregg Popovich got where he is due to his white privilege. Didn't you hear Obama? "you didn't build that"!

He should immediately resign his position as he is taking the job of a more well deserving minority who didn't get their job through white privilege. It is almost criminal that he is a white man lording over a black majority team in a black majority league. All due to white privilege.

I call on Gregg Popovich to immediately resign his position, give it to a more deserving minority being held down because Gregg holds the job that the minority deserves more, and further, to contribute the salary he didn't earn to BLM.

Championships? Popovich didn't earn those, it was on the backs of minorities. He should return all his hardware, and resign, allowing for a minority to move up, and apologize for all his white privilege.

interested thrid party     October 18
@Andymth3 Nice post. You must be new, the meat of this site is low brow humor and spitballing, how dare you pay attention to the written word! Be prepared for some lambasting from the SOD. But some of us appreciate well thought responses such as yours.

Andymth3     October 18
Gregg Popovich "crazy"? We all should be so crazy. This is a man that graduated from the Air Force Academy, served his country in the armed forces, in intelligence no less, has been one of the greatest basketball coaches in history winning 5 NBA championships, but he is crazy? Why? Because he had the temerity to call the president what he is, a "soulless coward"? Because he speaks forcefully and eloquently about race, and injustice, and inequity? You're right with your I only graduated from Glen Burnie High School schtick. You are way out of your league taking shots at him. I get it, he is a liberal and you are a conservative, you do not agree politically, but that does not make him crazy. I have read your obligatory free speech references, which I am not sure if you actually believe, but here is someone exercising his right to free speech, and he is doing it an a way that does not interfere with games, or national anthems, or your other precious forums, and yet he is crazy because he expressing his opinion. Is this what America has come to now? You somehow can say whatever you want because you are a nobody who nobody really cares what you think, but when an NBA coach actually says something that you do not agree with, how dare he? It is easy to be patriotic and American when everybody agrees with you, but heaven forbid they have a different point of view, them clearly they are crazy. I thought you were smarter and more broad minded than that. I guess I was wrong. I must be crazy.

DELRAY RICK     October 18
Just heard on the radio HILLARY IN LONDON says it is OK to knee for anthem. She will go opposite of TRUMP no matter what. THATS IT! You now can stand on your head if you want. What bunch of crap.

George     October 18
What odds am I offered against Tiger winning the Masters next year? I wish to put my money where my mouth is.

Brendan     October 18
One theory is that Anderson was not let go because of the other Atheltic Directors that have been fired related to the FBI investigation at other schools. Maryland is free and clear of that landmine, but had Anderson been let go at the same time as those others, accusations would be made. I think it is as simple as Loh does not like him and fundraising issues. But he is getting 6 months paid for the move to the Big Ten, which went well.

JohnInEssex     October 18
THANKS Drew for the write up on the MD AD situation. Good stuff!



Watched the Dodgers/Cubs last night - I laughed hysterically to myself as I watched the Cubs pitcher walk the Dodger pitcher on 4 straight balls with the bases loaded. The batter was doing the old fake a bunt and lean out over the plate thing that we all did in Little League, and it worked! During that at bat, the catcher talked to the pitcher twice and the pitching coach came out once. The color commentator (Ron Darling?) was spot on saying all this talking to the pitcher about pitching to the pitcher was just making matters worse for the Cubs pitcher. He also said there is a difference between pitching in the regular season compared to pitching in the playoffs. The sweet Cubbie fans rained down a thunderstorm of BOOS for their pitcher at the end of the inning.



Earlier in the game, the leadoff guy for the Dodgers (Taylor?) managed to get a triple on a ball hit down the third base line. Don't recall ever seeing that happen.

HERMAN     October 18
@robintowson makes a great point, Korea is golf crazy and starved for a sanctioned event. In addition to the purse I'd like to see the "guarantees" paid out to top players in appearance fees and other opportunities there where they can make a killing. Firms there would easily pay a top player a half million to play with the CEO and attend the big company dinner.

Leadership of the tour should be applauded for what they have done with the schedule. The various "runs" make total sense, opening in Hawaii, a run through California, off to Florida, and so on. This three week Asian run is genius.


Steve from Pimlico     October 18
If the Ravens had an Antonio Brown and a Leveon Bell,Joe would be more than adequate at QB.

Look what he did with Ray Rice and Anquan Bolding.

The modern game of football has passed Ozzie by ,sadly.Three of his beloved Alabama picks Cody ,Upshaw and now Williams have hardly been impactful players.

The QB positions new young stars all have mobility which forces defenses to account for their escapability.

James - Dundalk     October 18
@ Pratt. I always admired the knowledge of Phil Savage when he was director of college scouting. Since he left for the Cleveland GM years ago it IMO our college scouting has dropped off. I've stated before our Undrafted player seem to make more impact then the drafted ones.

Sunday
June 4
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Issue 4
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mickelson is one cool dad

At this point, Phil Mickelson knows there aren’t many opportunities left.

He’s won the Masters, the British Open and the PGA Championship.

Yes, he’s missing something.

The U.S. Open.

Mickelson has captured five major golf titles in his career, but he’s still missing the United States Open Championship, which would make him a career Grand Slam winner if he could win our nation’s golf championship.

He won’t get that chance this year.

Mickelson is foregoing this year’s event at Erin Hills because his daughter Sophia is graduating from high school.

Yes, at age 46, Mickelson is going to bypass this year’s U.S. Open, one of the final times he’ll be able to honestly tell himself, “I have a chance to win this tournament.”

I don’t know what you thought about Mickelson before this story hit, but I’m sure by now you think the same thing I think: He’s one cool guy.

At this stage in his career, Mickelson really has only one thing left to accomplish: the career Grand Slam. And which tournament victory would ring that bell for the lefthander? Right . . . the U.S. Open.

But Mickelson is putting family first on the weekend of June 16-17. Rather than chase the U.S. Open trophy, Phil’s going to see Sophia walk across the stage.

”I realize how important the U.S. Open is,” Mickelson said on Friday. “But seeing my daughter walk across that stage – nothing can come close to that.”

So, Mickelson will stay back in San Diego and let someone else win the U.S. Open. It certainly decreases his chances of earning the career Grand Slam, but Phil understands that family comes first.

In the wake of the on-going Tiger Woods saga, it’s heartwarming to see people like Mickelson do the right thing.

Sophia Mickelson and relatives

And who’s to say that Phil won’t win the U.S. Open next June? Golf’s a crazy, crazy game. I can see Mickelson sitting out this year and then completing the career Grand Slam next year at Shinnecock Hills, where he nearly captured the title way back in 1995.

Maybe the lure of winning all four doesn’t really matter to Phil. I mean, I guess $375 million in net worth is far more valuable than four silly trophies. But if you’re a golfer on the cusp of permanent legacy, you know capturing the career Grand Slam puts you in elite territory.

So, at age 46, missing that chance intentionally is really a big decision.

Mickelson deserves a lot of credit for his decision to skip the Open and attend his daughter’s graduation.

Some will say it’s the only decision he could make, but his daughter would likely understand if Dad said, “Hey, I only have a couple of more chances to win the U.S. Open and I’m going to have to play in the event this year rather than go to your graduation.”

Phil didn’t give her the chance to be involved in the decision.

”I decided early on I would be staying home,” Mickelson said.

He did leave himself an escape route if it became available. “If we somehow got really bad weather that delayed Thursday play into Friday . . . maybe I could do both,” Mickelson explained. “But I’m fully expecting not to play and I’m OK with it.”

Good for him.

Years from now, he’ll be happy he made that call.

His daughter will always be more important than a golf tournament.

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the price was right on saturday night


So much for second place and closing in on the Yankees.

Hanley Ramirez belted a 2-run homer and the Red Sox iced it with three more runs later on, as Boston won 5-2 to claim the third game of the four-game series at Camden Yards.

David Price was terrific on the mound for Boston, allowing just three hits and one earned run in seven innings of work.

Dylan Bundy fell to 6-4 for the Birds, allowing two earned runs in five innings.

Manny Machado hit his 12th home run of the season and second in two nights to produce one of Baltimore’s runs. A Trey Mancini double in the 9th scored the O’s other run.

The loss drops the Birds to 29-25 on the year, a half-game behind the Red Sox, who once again occupy 2nd place in the American League East. The Yankees, who beat Toronto on Saturday, 7-0, are once again 3.5 games ahead of the Orioles.

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we have two seats left on our
london trip to see the ravens!


Anyone interested in seeing the Ravens in London on September 24?

We still have room for two more people on our trip to the U.K.!!

We're flying over on British Airways (non-stop) and staying at the St. George's Hotel Wembley Stadium.

Our game tickets at Wembley Stadium are in the lower concourse, I might add. And most of our group of 34 are sitting together and/or on in the same section.

The trip details are simple: We're leaving on Tuesday, September 19 and arriving (via direct flight) in London on Wednesday, September 20. We'll spend five days in the U.K., take in the Ravens-Jaguars game on Sunday, and return to Baltimore on Monday, September 25.

It's $2,445 per-person, which includes the airfare, five nights hotel, the Ravens-Jaguars lower concourse ticket, a week long complimentary "tube pass" and full English breakfast every morning at the hotel.

To reserve your space on the trip, all you have to do is go here.

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Saturday
June 3
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXV
Issue 3
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this, that and the other


Pre-season football injuries get everything off to a sour start and the Ravens are now dealing with a double-dose of bad news after two setbacks in OTA workouts this week.

The one that hurts the most happened yesterday when tight end Dennis Pitta went down with a serious hip injury that will require surgery and likely ends his NFL career. This marks the third fractured hip for Pitta.

Pitta's loss is potentially crushing because the Ravens lack depth at the tight end position. Ben Watson is attempting to return a season after tearing his Achilles last August in a pre-season game, but the 36-year old is anything but a sure bet in 2017. Crockett Gillmore, Maxx Williams, Nick Boyle and Darren Waller -- all names you've heard over the last few years, but they have 119 catches COMBINED in their respective NFL careers.

Not only did the Ravens lose one of their few reliable pass catchers on Friday, but Joe Flacco loses his favorite go-to-guy as well.

Armchair quarterbacks were busting on Ozzie Newsome on Friday. "That's why you should have taken O.J. Howard!" more than one Ravens proclaimed on Twitter.

Look, I wanted the Ravens to take Howard with their first pick, too. But Newsome didn't know Pitta was going to fracture his hip again. It's kind of unfair to heap that kind of criticism on the veteran general manager, if you ask me.

Still, the Pitta loss is particularly crushing to quarterback Joe Flacco, who loses perhaps his most reliable pass catching weapon and certainly his favorite target in critical situations. And it's even more damaging when you remember the Ravens don't have a plethora of wide receivers on the roster, either.

Pitta's Friday injury ended a bad week for the Ravens.

2nd year cornerback Tavon Young went down with a torn ACL in Thursday's workout.

Young would have been the team's "slot" cornerback this year, but that job now will presumably be turned over to Lardarius Webb, the ageless one who has played nearly every defensive back position in his decade-long run with the Ravens.

Webb has the experience edge over Young, but the latter turned in a promising rookie campaign in 2016 and had one of those "nose for the ball" skill sets that made him a favorite of the coaching staff.

The Ravens did beef up their secondary in the off-season, which now looks like a good preemptive move. They added safety Tony Jefferson and cornerback Brandon Carr, not to mention taking Marlon Humphrey with their first pick in April's draft. They're returning Jimmy Smith and Eric Weddle back there, too.

So, losing Young might not be all that damaging numbers-wise, but it hurts to lose a second year player who impressed on the big stage as a rookie.

Doctor Longball again visited Camden Yards on Friday night, as the Orioles hit two more home runs in a 3-2 win over the Boston Red Sox.

Coupled with that win and a Yankees' loss in Toronto, the Orioles are now in second place and just 2.5 games behind New York in the A.L. East.

A long home run in the first inning got Manny Machado off to a good start on Friday night, but he went 1-for-4 in the O's 3-2 win over Boston.

Seth Smith and Manny Machado hit first-inning solo homers for the Birds, who have now won four of five after losing 13 of 17 games over a three week stretch. They're also 7-4 vs. Boston in 2017 and 4-1 in Baltimore.

Alec Asher, who got bombed in Houston last Sunday, looked like a new man on Friday night, going 6.1 innings and allowing just three hits, striking out five and walking no one. Mychal Givens, Darren O'Day and Brad Brach allowed just two Boston baserunners in 2.2 innings of work, with Brach retiring the Red Sox in order to close out the 9th inning.

Jonathan Schoop and Caleb Joseph were the only two Orioles with more than one hit on the night. Machado's home run was a mammoth shot of 465 feet, but he went 1-for-4 on the night and continues to struggle at the plate.

Adam Jones and Mark Trumbo both went 0-for-4 on Friday night. Chris Davis went 1-for-3 with two strikeouts.

It's Dylan Bundy vs. David Price tonight at Camden Yards. A win this evening for the Birds and they can try and beat Chris Sale for the 4-game sweep on Sunday afternoon.

Speaking of pitchers, Clayton Kershaw collected career strikeout number 2,000 last night in the Dodgers' 2-1 win over Milwaukee.

Kershaw struck out 14 Brewers in seven innings and allowed just three total baserunners to become the 79th pitcher in major league history to record 2,000 or more strikeouts.

In case you're wondering, Nolan Ryan is the all-time leader in career strikeouts with 5,714 in his 27 year big league career. Kershaw's great and all. He's going to the Hall of Fame. But he's not striking out 5,714 hitters in his career.

Another player looking for a milestone on Friday night failed to collect it, as Albert Pujols went 0-for-4 and remains stuck on 599 career home runs.

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federer scores major upset over jordan in our "ultimate winners" contest


We've had our first significant upset in the #DMD "Ultimate Winners" bracket contest, as #2 seed Michael Jordan has been sent home.

#15 seed Roger Federer, an 18-time major champion in tennis, eliminated Jordan yesterday by ONE vote. It actually (or is it, literally?) came down to one vote between the two of them, with Federer earning the victory.

We have two first-round match-ups remaining. Monday, #7 LeBron James faces #10 Roger Clemens and Tuesday, #4 Serena Williams takes on #13 Sidney Crosby, who could have his third Stanley Cup ring by then.

In case you're wondering, here's what the second-round match-ups look like that will start next week:

#1 Tiger Woods vs. #9 Jimmie Johnson

#5 Tom Brady vs. Williams/Crosby winner

#15 Roger Federer vs. James/Clemens winner

#3 Michael Phelps vs. #11 Phil Mickelson

Thank you to all who have voted thus far! This is certainly an interesting final eight contestants and some very intruiging second round battles are on the horizon.

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we have two seats left on our london trip to see the ravens!


Anyone interested in seeing the Ravens in London on September 24?

We still have room for two more people on our trip to the U.K.!!

We're flying over on British Airways (non-stop) and staying at the St. George's Hotel Wembley Stadium.

Our game tickets at Wembley Stadium are in the lower concourse, I might add. And most of our group of 34 are sitting together and/or on in the same section.

The trip details are simple: We're leaving on Tuesday, September 19 and arriving (via direct flight) in London on Wednesday, September 20. We'll spend five days in the U.K., take in the Ravens-Jaguars game on Sunday, and return to Baltimore on Monday, September 25.

It's $2,445 per-person, which includes the airfare, five nights hotel, the Ravens-Jaguars lower concourse ticket, a week long complimentary "tube pass" and full English breakfast every morning at the hotel.

To reserve your space on the trip, all you have to do is go here.

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Friday
June 2
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXV
Issue 2
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still chasing the dream but need to get it done this time around


One of the luxuries of turning 50 is you get to step into a new circle of competition for what they call "Senior" golfers.

That tag definitely stings a little when you first hear it -- "senior" -- but it is what it is.

The most significant competitive golf event offered to seniors in this country is the United States Senior Open, a tournament held mainly for professionals over the age of 50, but since golf is the most democratic of all the sports (no amateurs can play in the NFL, NBA or in the Major Leagues, for example), they'll allow an amateur to play in the tournament if you qualify to do so.

This year's U.S. Senior Open is June 29-July 2 at Salem Country Club in Peabody, Massachusetts.

This Monday at The Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia, I'll try and qualify for the event at Salem Country Club.

Bernhard Langer now has 9 career Senior (Champions Tour) major titles and will go for a record-setting 10th title at the U.S. Senior Open next month at Salem CC.

It will mark my fourth time attempting to qualify and second visit to the Homestead (Lower Cascades course), where we'll be playing one of the country's best 18 hole layouts in my opinion.

I missed the qualifying event due to a heel injury in 2014 (when I was 51), but came up short on the other three occasions, including last year at a terrific course in Philadelphia called Applebrook. I shot 74 in the morning wave of players, which looked promising given some windy afternoon conditions, but a couple of guys came through with better scores later on in the day.

Coming up a shot or two short in these kinds of qualifying events is indeed agonizing, as you spend a lot of time re-hashing your round and recalling the extra couple of shots you hit that cost you a chance at qualifying.

In the end, if the score to reach the Senior Open is, say, 70, it doesn't really matter if you shoot 71 or 81. Either of those scores sends you home a non-qualifier.

But when you do shoot 71 and the qualifying score is 70, it definitely magnifies the missed 3-footer or the 520 yard par-5 you couldn't reach in two shots to set up a fairly-automatic birdie.

Last year at Applebrook, two missed five-putts cost me a chance at a playoff to make it to the Senior Open. That hurt. But I always remind myself that the guys who shot 70 or 72 and qualified probably also missed a couple of five footers in their round.

It's very rare that someone goes through an entire round of competitive golf and doesn't "leave a couple out there".

Monday's round at The Homestead will feature roughly 60 players for two qualifying spots and two alternate spots. In Senior golf, earning one of the alternate spots is indeed important, as -- ahem -- us "older" players tend to break down a little more than the younger set who play in the U.S. Open or U.S. Amateur, for instance.

Grabbing one of the two qualifying spots gets you in for sure, but one of the alternate spots might also eventually take you to Salem CC as well.

For me, this year's event likely represents one of my final true chances to qualify for the U.S. Senior Open. Sure, I'll be back again next year at 55 and the year after that 56, etc. I'll keep trying to make it as long as I think I have the game to legitimately have a shot at qualifying. But with each passing year, a new group of 50-year olds come in -- a little stronger, a little more healthy and, perhaps, a little more "eager" to feast on the new opportunities afforded to senior golfers.

I've learned over the years that how you're playing in the week or two leading up to the event doesn't necessarily translate to how you're going to play on the day of the qualifier. It's golf. You can shoot 70 today and 80 tomorrow and nothing at all has changed...except your scorecard.

So, I've figured out that what matters most in these qualifiers is how you prepare, not how well you play leading up to the event.

More stretching, more short game work, more quality practice on the range. That's more important than playing every day for two weeks leading up to the event.

Yesterday, for example, I dumped 100 balls out on the range at Eagle's Nest and vowed I'd only hit those golf balls and not a single one above 100. Often, you'll just keep hitting until you're tired, frustrated or convinced that you've "found it".

I now know there is no "finding it" today anymore than you found it yesterday or the week before. Practice is mainly about quality first. I don't dismiss long two or three hour practice sessions as useless, by the way. I love hitting golf balls and trying to get better. But in preparing for a tournament, just standing out in the hot sun and beating balls until your hands hurt isn't a good way to prepare.

I went through all 100 balls yesterday, as I promised myself I would, then hit another 60 shots in the short-game area, hitting those 60 from 20-yards and 50-yards.

That was more than enough work, particularly given that I knew in advance I'd be playing 18 holes today at Eagle's Nest, then playing 18 more at The Homestead on Sunday in a pre-tournament practice round.

As an amateur trying to qualify for these kind of "national" events, you know you're behind the eight-ball from the start. We're a little less experienced, a little less "tournament savvy" and certainly a little more prone to a big mistake that can easily damage your chances.

If someone asked me for one piece of advice about attempting to qualify for the U.S. Senior Open or any other national USGA event, I'd simply tell them not to make a big number. Sure, that's easier said than done, but what I mean by that is don't try anything heroic or dumb that could eliminate you with one bad swing.

When you only have 18 holes to shoot a quality number, a double or triple bogey is a round-killer. Hit the best "safest" shot you can at all times and try to make some putts.

The other piece of advice: Do not "score watch", as I like to call it. There's no sense in trying to figure out what anyone else in the field is shooting because you simply don't know. Without electronic scoreboards to tell you where everyone is (and they aren't on site at The Homestead), there's no use in standing on the 15th tee saying, "Well, I probably have to get to 71 today to qualify, so let me try and stuff this 5-iron to a back left flag with water all down the left side".

Don't do that. Just hit every shot as well as you can, try to make as many putts as you can, and turn in your scorecard at the end and see what it gets you.

It's a waste of time to try and figure out what the qualifying score *might* be and how you're going to get there.

Get there first. Worry about the qualifying score second.

I love competing in these kind of events because they give you a chance to put what you've learned over the last year up to the challenge of competing against a high level playing field. It's almost like a final exam in school, in an odd kind of way.

I missed qualifying last year at Applebrook, but played well enough to know I'm capable of shooting the number that it takes to get in. I've spent the last year preparing for this attempt at The Homestead. Let's see if I studied enough to pass the test this time around.

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o's get good news, ravens get bad news


The two local teams were at opposite ends of the news cycle on Thursday, as the Orioles won for the third time in four games with a 7-5 win over Boston, while the Ravens lost a promising young player for the 2017 season.

The Orioles got home runs from Mark Trumbo, Chris Davis, Adam Jones and Jonathan Schoop in last night's win, with Wade Miley working seven innings on the mound to help the Birds improve to 28-24 on the year, now just a half-game behind Boston in the A.L. East.

A first-inning home run on Thursday night for Mark Trumbo was one of four round-trippers hit by the Birds in their 7-5 win over Boston.

Trumbo went 3-for-4 on the night and kicked things off with a 2-run homer in the first inning. He's now hitting .278 on the season and leads the team in RBI with 28.

Davis hit a home run as well, but predictably struck out twice and went 1-for-4 in the win.

Manny Machado looked better at the plate, going 2-for-4. Still, Machado's numbers thus far are putrid -- .211 average, .289 on-base percentage, .407 slugging percentage.

It's Alec Asher vs. Rick Porcello tonight in the second game of the four-game series. The O's need to get this one, because they'll face David Price and Chris Sale on Saturday and Sunday respectively.

The Ravens lost a key member of their secondary on Thursday when Tavon Young went down with a torn ACL in the team's OTA workout at Owings Mills.

Young was an inspiring story a year ago as a rookie and was expected to play a key role in the team's secondary in 2017.

Instead, he'll miss the entire season.

That's the unfortunate consequence of practicing in May and June. In the "old days", the players would bid farewell at the end of the season and didn't see one another again until training camp in August. Now, there are mini-camps, OTA's, workouts, fitness obligations, etc., that keep players in town and connected to the team on a year-round basis.

Occasionally, as we saw yesterday with Young's injury, that extra work winds up hurting the team instead of helping.

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from the desk of
brien jackson

BRIEN JACKSON's work at #DMD promises to provide some of Baltimore's best sports insight and commentary, brought to you by SECU, the official credit-union of Drew's Morning Dish. Brien has done sports media work with ESPN, CBS and NPR. His contributions to #DMD will focus on the Orioles, the Ravens, and national sports stories.


davis having better season than trumbo, jones and manny


Chris Davis is having a weird year.

Once again failing to get anywhere close to the dominant slugger he was in 2013 and 2015, this year Davis looks completely lost at the plate at times, watching one called third strike after another.

And it's not just your lying eyes playing tricks on you, Davis really is striking out A LOT (an astounding 38% of his at bats) and watching a bunch of strikes go by (his rate of swinging at pitches in the strikezone is a ridiculously low 51.9%, compared to a career rate of 67%).

And yet, if the "core four" of the Orioles' lineup is Davis, Manny Machado, Adam Jones, and Mark Trumbo, Davis has been the most productive hitter of the bunch all season, sometimes by a pretty wide margin.

Part of the reason is that, on balance, Davis' season at the plate isn't actually so bad.

In fact, his .229/.327/.464 batting line and 109 wRC+entering play Thursday night are basically identical to the .221/.332/.459 slash line and 111 wRC+ he put up last year.

Likewise his power indicators remain roughly the same, so all else being equal Davis is on pace for somewhere in the range of 35-40 home runs once again.

And going into the recent series in Detroit, Davis actually had career highs in on base percentage and walk rate, and a near career high in batting average. Even now, in the middle of a brutal slump, his walk rate for the season remains at 12.5%, above his career average, and his line drive rate is up by about 4.5% over last season.

In other words, Crush is still drawing plenty of walks when he lets marginal pitches go by, and when he does swing he's making hard contact with the ball more often than he did last year, and continuing on this pace he'll be a reasonably productive power hitter who fills his role in the lineup, even with the strikeouts.

On the other hand, Davis doesn't have much competition in the category, as Jones, Trumbo, and Machado have been genuinely awful to begin the season.

If we use wRC+, a "total offense" metric that scales to league average and adjusts for park factors, Davis has spent nearly the whole year as the only member of the quarter above 100, which is the league average mark (every point above or below 100 is 1% better or worse than league average).

Trumbo has battled his way back above the mark (104 entering Thursday), but Jones and Machado both remain below average. Machado is all the way down at 84, or a whopping 16% below the average American League hitter! If you're looking for one reason why the Orioles are hovering around .500 and stuck in the middle of the pack, it's that a guy they're counting on to be a legitimate MVP contender is hitting less than David Eckstein!

To play Captain Obvious for a moment, this obviously isn't a recipe for success for this team. With a rickety-at-best starting rotation and a bullpen carrying a heavy workload on its best days, the O's playoff hopes ride on their offense, and their main stars especially. Wellington Castillo and Jonathan Schoop are having career years at the plate and Seth Smith and Trey Mancini have proved to be an exceptionally productive platoon, but this team is going nowhere if at least three of the "Big 4" don't significantly improve at the plate over the rest of the season.

The good news is that there's every reason to believe that will happen. Trumbo has a .415 slugging percentage at the moment, even counting his season in cavernous Safeco Field, the only year he's ever slugged below .449 was 2013, when he played just 88 games. And obviously Jones and Machado are much better hitters than they've proven to be so far, and are quite likely to at least largely regress to the mean.

If such a breakout does come, the O's are still plenty close enough in the standings to slug their way into October once again.

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tiger crushes annika, jordan faces federer in today's "ultimate winners" battle


First-round action in our "Ultimate Winners" bracket contest continues today with a meeting of great champions, as #2 seed Michael Jordan takes on #15 seed Roger Federer.

I objected -- strenuously, in fact, like Demi Moore did in A Few Good Men -- to the Committee about Federer's 15th seed placement, but it fell on deaf ears. This is a tough match-up for Federer, who goes up against one of the all-time great "winners" in Michael Jordan.

Still, don't just vote for Jordan without at least looking at Federer's career information and seeing for yourself just how great he was -- and still is.

If we're being fair here, this match-up isn't nearly as lopsided as the 2 seed vs. 15 seed format would make it out to be.

18 career Grand Slam singles titles have made Roger Federer the winningest male player in tennis history.

You can find Michael Jordan's career information here.

You can find Roger Federer's career information here.

Yesterday, Tiger Woods got his first dose of good news this week, as he easily defeated Annika Sorenstam, 77% to 23% to advance to the second round of the bracket challenge.

Please remember the issue we have with the "voting form" you'll use. It's not particularly "eye friendly", as our operating system allows for a very specific sort of poll to be used and, unfortunately, we're quite restricted with how we use it. This is WAY beyond my pay grade. I turn these sorts of things over to my good buddy George McDowell. He's the brains behind this whole operation.

So, you'll see the voting box below has two names and an "x", "y" and "z". Our poll MUST have five and ONLY five voting options. I know, it's quirky. So, you'll see Michael Jordan and Roger Federer in the box below, plus x, y and z. You're obviously ONLY voting for either Jordan or Federer.

It's time to vote. Who are you choosing? The #2 seed Michael Jordan? Or the #15 seed Roger Federer?



 Drew's Morning Dish

#DMD Poll

Question: What is the Ravens biggest problem thus far in 2017?
Flacco and his QB play
Lack of receivers and playmakers
Key injuries
Offensive and defensive schemes
Harbaugh and his coaching
Name
Email address


Thursday
June 1
r logo#DMDfacebook logoVolume XXXV
Issue 1
subscribe to the #dmd rss feed


16 points to ponder


1. Hey, when I'm right, I'm right. It doesn't happen every day, mind you, so I'm here to remind everyone that it's still Adam Jones who stirs the Orioles' drink. It's not Manny (0-for-5 last night, in case you missed it), Davis or Trumbo who puts the Birds in gear, it's Jones, who returned to the lineup on Wednesday after missing four games and beat the Yankees all by himself. Jones knocked in five runs in the 10-4 win over New York. While everyone is talking about paying Machado, Britton and Tillman, they better start rallying behind Jones, who is also a free agent after 2018.

2. Albert Pujols still has 599 home runs after failing to collect #600 in last night's 2-1 win over Atlanta. Soon, though, he'll become the 9th player in major league history to hit 600. OK, it's trivia time. Without the aid of Google, who are the other eight with 600 or more dingers? A dollar says you don't know all all eight. Answer coming shortly.

3. As expected, the Tiger Woods dash-cam video doesn't do much to help Tiger's case. It shows him wobbly, confused and clearly in some kind of altered state. Once he sees the video, I think that will be the impetus for a significant change in his lifestyle. I still can't get over that they asked him where he was going and he said "Orange County". Cut that dose in half, Tiger, those things are too strong for you, pal. Oh, and for all the police haters out there, it's worth noting that those two officers were nothing but extraordinarily professional and straight with Tiger.

Making his third straight trip to the Finals, Golden State's Steph Curry is looking for a second championship ring and second triumph over LeBron and the Cavaliers in what has now become the NBA's top rivalry.

4. The NBA Finals kick off tonight in Oakland, where Golden State and Cleveland meet for the third straight year in the Finals. Remarkably, it's LeBron James' seventh straight trip to the championship series, which is certainly a noteworthy feat all on its own. Most of the experts are taking the Warriors to win quite easily, but I think the Cavaliers will put up a fight similar to last June when they extended the series to seven games and won the title on Golden State's home court. I'll take the Warriors in seven games this time around. And, yes, I'll be watching.

5. I'm a luke-warm tennis fan these days, but, much like horse racing, I do follow the "major" events in professional tennis. For some reason, though, I've never really gotten into The French Open, which is currently being played at Roland Garros. There's just something about the tournament that doesn't appeal to me. Maybe it's because everyone already knows who is going to win on the men's side (Nadal) before the event even begins.

6. I think it's safe to say the Yankees are for real. Yes, they need another starter or two, but doesn't everyone not named the Boston Red Sox? If the rumors are true that New York will eventually be the landing spot for Jose Quintana of the White Sox, that pick-up will surely help Joe Girardi's team. But that New York offense can make up for some pitching woes, too. I still don't know if they can hold on and fend off Boston, but the Yankees are a contender, not a pretender.

7. The Pittsburgh Penguins are now up 2-0 in their Stanley Cup Finals series with Nashville after a 4-1 last night in Game 2. Once again, the Penguins packaged together a bunch of scoring in a short amount of time to win, as they game was deadlocked at 1-1 heading into the third period and the Penguins scored three times in less than four minutes to start the final stanza. In Monday's Game 1 win, they scored twice in the game's final three minutes to win 5-3. Nashville still has hope, but they better win a couple of games on home ice or the series is over.

8. Remember when the Minnesota Twins came to town last week and beat the Orioles three straight games? The Twins looked decent, huh? Well, Houston (who also swept the Orioles last weekend) just went into Minnesota and dumped the Twins three straight games by a combined score of 40-16. They won 16-8, 7-2 and 17-6 in those three games, running their major league best record to 38-16 in the process. Rumors have Houston in play for Oakland's Sonny Gray. I'm not sure the Astros actually need another quality starting pitcher, but Gray would be a good one to get if they can acquire him.

9. Mike Trout's thumb injury and surgery will likely force him to miss 40 games or thereabouts. That will also probably keep him from winning the A.L. MVP award, which he was on the fast track to doing after getting off to a sensational start in 2017. "The Judge" in New York is now the favorite (.327/.428/.690, 17 HR, 37 RBI), but there's still more than two-thirds of the season remaining. Jose Altuve is also in the MVP mix. The Houston second baseman is hitting .319/.386/.505 with 7 HR and 27 RBI.

10. This week's PGA Tour stop is The Memorial Tournament, hosted by Jack Nicklaus at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio. It's not a major, but the field is "major-esque", as everyone wants to play Jack's event and a course that serves as a mini-tune-up for the U.S. Open in three weeks. I like Dustin Johnson to win this week, with Matt Kuchar and Patrick Reed hanging around to make it interesting on Sunday afternoon.

11. Nelson Cruz leads the American League in RBI with 42. You remember Cruz, right? He played for the Orioles one year (2014) and hit 40 HR and knocked in 108 runs before shuffling off to Seattle because the Mariners wanted him and no one else in the league apparently did.

12. Someone on Twitter suggested the Orioles ship Trey Mancini to Oakland as part of a deal involving Sonny Gray. No, no, no. That's actually the opposite of what the Orioles should be doing these days. Don't send away your young players. Try and move a veteran or two if you can. Therein lies the rub, though. Our veterans worth shipping (Davis, Trumbo, etc.) wouldn't fit Oakland's tight player budget. By all means, though, do not give away Mancini.

13. We now need just two teams in our "Nashville Cup" golf outing, November 1-5, to coincide with the Ravens-Titans game. If you play golf (with some sort of established handicap) and you have a friend who plays, what are you waiting for? This will be a fun four days together, with a total of 16 of us participating in the event. And, while I don't know what line of work you're in, you can make some pretty nice business contacts in the Baltimore market based on the roster of people already signed up for the trip. E-mail me if you're interested in going: drew@drewsmorningdish.com

14. Towson University plays Maryland in football this September down in College Park. Too bad those two didn't face off in the lacrosse final this past Monday, but at least we know there's a football game on the horizon between the two teams.

15. Everytime I see J.J. Hardy run now, I cringe and wonder how old he'll be when he undergoes his first knee replacement surgery? Poor guy can barely move anymore.

16. OK, here are the eight guys with 600 career home runs. Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Alex Rodriguez, Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr., Jim Thome and Sammy Sosa. Keep your dollar. It was a friendly bet.

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jimmie johnson beats kobe bryant; tiger meets annika in today's "ultimate winners" battle


First-round action in our "Ultimate Winners" bracket contest continues today with a meeting of champion golfers, as Tiger Woods, our #1 seed, goes up against Annika Sorenstam, the #16 seed.

It hasn't been a good week for Tiger. Maybe a win today, if he scores one, will brighten things up for him.

While Sorenstam didn't dominate the LPGA Tour to the same degree that Woods ran roughshod over the PGA Tour, her career was exceptional nonetheless. She was, in a lot of ways, the LPGA's version of Woods during her run of prominence. All she did was win.

79 PGA Tour wins and 14 major championships -- all before age 38 -- made Tiger Woods one of our country's great sports champions for nearly two decades.

You can find Tiger Woods' career information here.

You can find Annika Sorenstam's career information here.

Yesterday, NASCAR star Jimmie Johnson (67%) easily beat Kobe Bryant (33%) to advance to the second round of our "Ultimate Winners" contest.

Please remember the issue we have with the "voting form" you'll use. It's not particularly "eye friendly", as our operating system allows for a very specific sort of poll to be used and, unfortunately, we're quite restricted with how we use it. This is WAY beyond my pay grade. I turn these sorts of things over to my good buddy George McDowell. He's the brains behind this whole operation.

So, you'll see the voting box below has two names and an "x", "y" and "z". Our poll MUST have five and ONLY five voting options. I know, it's quirky. So, you'll see Tiger Woods and Annika Sorenstam in the box below, plus x, y and z. You're obviously ONLY voting for either Tiger or Annika.

It's time to vote. Who are you choosing? The #1 seed Tiger Woods? Or the #16 seed Annika Sorenstam?



 Drew's Morning Dish

#DMD Poll

Question: What is the Ravens biggest problem thus far in 2017?
Flacco and his QB play
Lack of receivers and playmakers
Key injuries
Offensive and defensive schemes
Harbaugh and his coaching
Name
Email address
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thursday sports with David Rosenfeld

DAVID ROSENFELD is a former sports publicist who still keeps his eye on the game. Looking at the game, the news or the players on an in-depth level is what he likes to do. Follow his work here at #DMD every Thursday, brought to you by Glory Days Grill.


Tiger Woods was for sure the finest golfer of my generation, and toss a coin with Jack Nicklaus for best ever.

Woods follows only Nike compatriot Michael Jordan on the list of athletes as sports “brands,” and you could even argue that his was bigger, considering the multimedia explosion that coincided with Woods’ arrival and the sheer fact that he made golf (yes, golf), the coolest thing in the world.

On the course, Woods hit shots no other player could— how many times and in how many different ways did we hear David Feherty say that? — yet also excelled at the simplest, most fundamental parts of the game. He was everything you could possibly be as a player, both physically and mentally strong, powerful yet possessing awesome finesse, impossibly aggressive but intelligently surgical.

Even considering all of that, there are three other things I think of most when it comes to Woods on the course. One: he was the first PGA Tour player I can remember who looked and acted like he was an athlete. Two: he was the most incredible putter the game has ever seen. Three: he singlehandedly changed the financial structure of his sport; even Phil Mickelson will tell you that.

All of that is what he was, and he should be rightly proud of it. But based on everything I’ve ever read about Tiger Woods, from the time he was a teenager to the day he was stopped for a DUI in 2017, there’s one thing he’s always had difficulty being.

In happier times...or were they?

And that’s an adult.

I’m not even being critical of that, really. We are the product of our circumstances, and his were certainly sheltered and micromanaged in a way that would eventually come to define how an athlete can be “handled” to the point of losing all aspects of being an actual human being.

And all indications are that Woods was always a shy kid, partially due to being a black kid living in the white world of golf, as well as a self-professed “dork,” gawky and awkward until the moment he picked up a golf club and swung it.

By the time he won that third straight U.S. Amateur title in 1996, at just 20 years old, the shyness and awkwardness were gone. But the managing of Tiger Woods was already in full swing.

There was no time for him to grow up.

One day, he was a kid at Stanford, famous only to golf fans looking for the next great thing. The next day, he lived in a gated golf course community in Central Florida, covering his windows with black curtains for privacy while he played video games.

One day, he smiled at a press conference in Milwaukee before his first pro tournament and said, sheepishly, “Hello World!” The next day, he became the first athlete to announce everything, yet say nothing, via boilerplate press releases on his own website.

I’ve always wondered if he really wanted to move to Isleworth before he could legally drink; he was a Southern California kid, and there are plenty of lovely places to play and practice golf 365 days a year there. But his team told him to move to Florida; he was going to be rich, and the tax consequences were important.

I’ve always wondered if he actually believed all the goofy stuff coming out of his father’s mouth, about Tiger being chosen by some higher power to change the world. He knew that he was good because he worked at it, and because he loved that the work allowed him to take his considerable talent and turn it into something greater. But his team played along with Earl’s bunk, and a whole lot of other people got rich on that, too.

I’ve always wondered if he actually wanted that kind of “team” to begin with.

Sure, he was going to become Tiger Woods, and he needed good management, but did everything need to be so scripted? How many of the decisions that he made then were really his? Did he actually want to be liked (or disliked) for who he was, or was his image always more important to him (and his team) than his reality?

By 7:00 p.m. on April 13, 1997, none of that really mattered. Tiger, at 21, had won the Masters by 12 strokes, with a record score of 18-under-par, despite shooting a 4-over 40 on the first nine holes of his tournament. The victory was watched by the largest television audience ever to watch a golf tournament.

He was already Tiger Woods, and everything that came along with it, whether they were his decisions or not. He was basically frozen in time, and that aspect of him has never changed.

The only thing Woods has ever changed of his own volition, besides a couple of caddies, was his swing. I’ve never really been as critical about that as some…he’s a professional, and those guys are never happy with their swings, even if they win. They feel like they can’t hit a draw when they want, or don’t like their trajectory, or maybe just get a little bored.

He’s certainly been injured, and his body has changed, and he’s tried to adjust to those realities. He was good enough to dominate with at least three different swings.

When it comes to his profession, I’d always give Woods the benefit of the doubt, no matter whose swing theory you like the best.

All indications are that Tiger Woods is an outstanding and devoted father to his kids, and not just in an “I’m rich and give them a lot of money” kind of way.

We know that he’s not the only man to have ever strayed from his wife, though he had the mechanisms to do it in a way that others can’t. And he’s certainly not the only person to be caught driving under the influence, and to give an excuse for it.

I can’t say what it’s like to be inside the Tiger Woods bubble. But the bubble isn’t just an outside creation from which he feels like he must hide on a yacht called “Privacy.” It also comes from inside, and Woods hasn’t always admitted that.

And that’s a big part of growing up, no matter how old you are or what your mug shot looks like.

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we have two seats left on our london trip to see the ravens!


Anyone interested in seeing the Ravens in London on September 24?

We still have room for two more people on our trip to the U.K.!!

We're flying over on British Airways (non-stop) and staying at the St. George's Hotel Wembley Stadium.

Our game tickets at Wembley Stadium are in the lower concourse, I might add. And most of our group of 34 are sitting together and/or on in the same section.

The trip details are simple: We're leaving on Tuesday, September 19 and arriving (via direct flight) in London on Wednesday, September 20. We'll spend five days in the U.K., take in the Ravens-Jaguars game on Sunday, and return to Baltimore on Monday, September 25.

It's $2,445 per-person, which includes the airfare, five nights hotel, the Ravens-Jaguars lower concourse ticket, a week long complimentary "tube pass" and full English breakfast every morning at the hotel.

To reserve your space on the trip, all you have to do is go here.





O's SCOREBOARD
Sunday, October 1st
Orioles
0

Rays
6
WP: B. Bell (5-7)

LP: K. Gausman (11-12)

HR: Casali (1)

RECORD/PLACE: 75-87, 5th place

breakfast bytes

Astros blank Yankees in Game 7, 4-0, earn World Series trip vs. Dodgers that starts Tuesday in L.A.

College football: Maryland trounced at #5 Wisconsin, 38-13; Towson falls to 0-4 in CAA play with 40-17 loss at New Hampshire.

PGA Tour: Justin Thomas beats Marc Leishman on first playoff hole to win CJ Cup in Korea.

NHL: Caps offense continues to sputter in 4-1 home loss to Florida.